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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    July 12, 2011
    12:00 - 5:00pm EDT  

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the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: mr. president, let us be very clear that in terms of the deficit-reduction package that is being debated, we are talking about an issue of huge consequence not only for people today but for our kids and our grandchildren. this is likely from a domestic perspective "the" most important issue that any member of the senate or the house will ever vote on in his or her political career.
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this is a huge deal which in many ways will shape the future of america. now, i know the media refers to the discussion as whether or not we're going to have a big deal, $4 trillion, or whether we're going to have a smaller deal of $2 trillion, but the real issue is whether or not we're going to have a fair deal, a deficit-reduction package which represents the interests of working people and the vast majority of our people or whether we're going to have a deficit reductio-reduction packh ends up reflecting the needs of the wealthiest people in this country who are do phenomenally well and the largest corporations in this country who, in many instances, are making record-breaking profits. that's really what the debate is
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about. now, the republican position on deficit reduction has been extremely clear and is consistent with their right-wing ideology. despite the fact that our current deficit crisis has been caused by two wars unpaid for, huge tax breaks that have gone to the wealthiest people in this country, and a recession caused by the deregulation of wall street and the lack of revenue coming in as a result of that recession. our republican friends are adamant that while the richest people in this country are becoming much richer, while today we have the most unequal distribution of income and wealth of any major country,
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where the top 400 individuals own more wealth than the bottom 150 million americans, that gap between the very, very rich and everybody else is growing wider, our republican friends say the deficit must be balanced on the backs of working families, the elderly, the sick, and the children. no, the very rich, the top 1% who now earn more income than the bottom 50%, should not be asked to contribute one penny more. and the republicans are very clear that despite the fact that corporate profits are soaring, that corporation after corporation are enjoying huge tax loopholes that enable them to make billions of dollars a year in profits and not pay one penny in taxes, republicans say,
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sorry, off the table. large profitable corporations, c.e.o.'s making millions a year, they don't have to contribute to deficit reduction. only the children have to contribute to deficit reduction. only the elderly have to contribute to deficit reduction. only working families, only the unemployed, only the sick. we have to balance the budget on the backs of those people. but if you're very rich and getting richer, if you're a profitable corporation, off the table. you don't have to contribute a nickel. poll after poll shows that the republican position and their ideology is way out of touch with what the american people need or want. this is not bernie sanders talking. this is the american people talking. poll after poll, when the american people are asked: what
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is your preferred option in terms of deficit reduction, they say ask the wealthy to pay more in taxes. so when our republican friends come up here and they say the american people don't want to raise taxes on the wealthy, just not true. so, to my mind, what the republicans are proposing is not only immoral in terms of coming down heavy on the most vulnerable people in our society -- people who are already hurting as a result of the recession. real unemployment, 15%. what do you want to take out of those people? they don't have any jobs. highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world. 21% of our kids living in poverty. you want to cut them even more. hunger among senior citizens in this country going up. you want to take away their
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nutrition programs? not only is that immoral to my mind, it is bad economics because you don't get the economy moving until working people have some money to go out and buy the goods and services that companies are selling. so, mr. president, to my mind, when the republicans are coming from on this issue is way, way out of right field and way out of touch with where the american people believe we should go. but having said that, mr. president, i have to tell you that i am very confused as to where president obama is coming from on this issue. maybe i speak here use an independent. not a republican, not a democrat. longest-serving independent in congressional history. but i think i speak for the vast majority of american people on this issue. where is president obama on this issue? we know where the republicans
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are coming from. suddenly out of nowhere president obama tells us that social security cuts have got to be placed on the table. where does this come from? the president understands that social security hasn't contributed one nickel to our deficit. in fact, social security has a $2.6 trillion surplus today, can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible american for the next 25 years. social security is funded by the payroll tax, not by the u.s. treasury. and the president understands that. yet, the president has now put on the table significant cuts in social security as well as medicare, as well as medicaid. despite his knowledge and his previous statements that cuts in
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these programs would be devastating to ordinary americans. mr. president, the president of the united states, barack obama, in recent statements has talked about the growth of political cynicism in this country and has argued that the american people are sick and tired of politicians who refuse to tackle big issues. there is truth to what he is saying. but there is also a bigger truth, and that is that the american people are sick and tired and dismayed about candidates who run for office and say one thing, and then after they are elected, they do something very different. in that regard, let me mention that when candidate barack obama ran for office, he told the
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american people over and over again that he was going to fight to protect the needs of ordinary americans and the elderly and the sick and the children, among many other promises that he made during his tough campaign against senator mccain, he said he was not going to cut social security benefits. that is what he said over and over again. and let me quote then-senator barack obama and what he told the aarp on september 6, 2008 -- and i quote -- "john mccain's campaign has suggested that the best answer for the growing pressures on social security might be to cut cost-of-living adjustments or raise the retirement age.
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let me be clear, i will not do either." end of quote. barack obama, september 2008. so, mr. president, when you want to ask why the american people are frustrated with politicians, are increasingly cynical, it has a lot to do with candidates who say one thing and do another thing. if you told the american people you're not going to cut social security, then don't cut social security. keep your word. and in case people think that, well, you know, these proposed cuts are not significant, they're just really trifling. let me quote from a document from social security works, a coalition of many, many organizations who are doing a great job. defending social security, and this is a quote from their recent document. when president obama and others are talking about cutting social
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skaourbgts one of the approaches they are -- social security, one of the approaches they are talking about is changing how they do colas. the congressional budget office estimates -- this theths from that document by social security works. the c.b.o. estimates documents from the so-called change c.p.i., which is what i believe the president would be talking about, used to cut benefits by $112 billion over ten years. the social security administration chief actuary estimates the effects of this change would be that beneficiaries who retire at age 65 and receive average benefits would get $560 less a year at age 75. let me repeat that. $560 less a year at age 75.
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now that may not seem like a lot of money to some folks around here, but when you're trying to get by at the age of 75, when you've got all kinds of medical bills and you've got all kinds of prescription drug costs and you're trying to eat and maybe you're getting $14,000 a year in social security, you know what? $560 a year is a lot of money. but then it gets worse because what the social security administration estimates, that at 85 -- and more and more people, thank god, are living to 85 -- people who are very fragile at age 85, what they would see are cuts of about $1,000 a year. the longer you live, the more you're cut.
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is that what we're about in america? we don't ask millions to pay more in taxes but we tell somebody who is 85 years of age living on $14,000 a year that they would get dulles 1,000 -- that they would get $1,000 less than otherwise because we adopted this so-called change in c.p.i. mr. president, i think the issue v is very clear, and -- i think the issue is very clear, and that is the senate, this congress have got to stand with the overwhelming majority of the american people who understand that the solution to this deficit crisis requires shared sacrifice. yes, we've got to take a look at waste and fraud and bureaucracy in every agency of government. no one disputes that. yes, we have got to take a hard look at military spending, which has tripled since 1997.
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and, yes, maybe we've got to bring the troops home from iraq and afghanistan sooner than many here would like or that the president would like, and save substantial sums if we do that. most certainly if we're going to go forward with shared sacrifice, yes, we do have to ask billions, despite all of their power and all of their campaign contributions and all of their lobbying, maybe the billionaires who are doing phenomenally well may have to contribute to deficit reduction. yes, maybe those companies that stash their money in tax hyphens in pwerpld and the cayman eye hraldz -- in bermuda and the cayman islands, maybe they are going to have to start paying their fair share. on my web site which is sanders.senate.gov, i put a small letter which said to the president, mr. president, stand tall. take on these right-wing
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ideologues who want to make devastating cuts to working families. and in a couple of weeks we have 135,000 signatures on that letter, and i think that letter reflects what the american people want. they want shared sacrifice. they do not want to see the elderly, the kids or working families being battered more and more, especially in the midst of this recession. so, mr. president, i would say to president obama, do not assume, do not assume that just because you work and reach an agreement that everybody here is going to support that agreement. the american, the people demand fairness. they demand shared sacrifice. and some of us intend to bring that about. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. brown: i ask to speak up to seven minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you,
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mr. president. i always enjoy listening to my new england colleague speak. the right-wing rhetoric stuff, though, it doesn't work for me when there are people of good will on both sides of the aisle who are trying to solve these very real problems. as you know, mr. president, we're working on a sense of the senate here today, and i'm rising to speak about my own sense of the senate. it's an amendment i filed to this bill that we're on, expresses a key commonsense idea. it's very simple. don't raise taxes on small businesses, period. but especially don't do it at a time when unemployment is over 9% and there's meager job growth throughout the country has quite frankly stalled out. we can't afford more of the failed economic policies that we've been experiencing. frankly, i can't believe that increasing the tax burdens on small businesses, even when it's on the radar screen here in washington, it just makes no sense to me. i want to do the opposite.
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i think we should respond to this terrible unemployment numbers like a progrowth idea like a payroll tax deduction for businesses to hire workers. let's do something constructive to add incentive to actually get our economic engine moving again, especially with the businesses that can do it best, which are small businesses. the idea that we would raise taxes right now on small businesses is the very definition of being out of touch with people back home who actually work for a living in this country and create jobs for others. as i travel back to massachusetts -- and i virtually do every weekend. i meet with, i think i've had over 230, 240 meetings since i've been elected. the biggest question i'm always faced with is what's going on in washington? why do you guys always put that wet blanket over us, over regulation, that lack of business stph* -- when i hear
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from small business people back in massachusetts, they're worried they can't hire more workers. we need to actually create confidence in small businesses to put people back to work. instead we're terrifying them with these tax proposals. a lot of the rhetoric you're hearing here today, they don't know what's next. people up here listening, they have no clue what's next. what are we going to do in washington next to put that wet blanket over businesses? and we expect them to make a new commitment to hire an employ? it's not going to happen. recent calls to repeal the last in, first out accounting method and applying it retro actively without even reducing the corporate tax rate or doing anything whatsoever to soften the blow on small small business would be disastrous on those who depend on the current system. the corporate tax rate is the second highest in the country. if japan lowers there, it will be -- lowers theirs, it will be
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the highest. yet some people in washington want to tax small businesses more. i don't get it. i'm sorry. despite these many challenges, in the past decade, this country has seen the creation of more than 300,000 small business companies with 500 employees or less. and these small firms and the founders who started them took risk during a time that many large companies have been downsizing. and as a member of the small business committee, i hear testimony regularly from many of our business leaders expressing the difficulties of the current environment. and i believe we to do absolutely everything we can in our power to protect our citizens from overregulation, the potential overtaxation. and we have in massachusetts and throughout this great country small businesses and especially manufacturers are the keys to our economic recovery and the economic engine here in massachusetts. and in massachusetts and the
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rest of the county, they're the lifeblood of our economy, ranging from mom-and-pop stores to some of the country's most cutting-edge high-tech start-up companies. so how can we tax these job-creating small businesses and then stand on the senate floor and people about how awful it is that unemployment is at an all-time high while cloaking it in the language of rhetoric of millionaires and billionaires and corporate jets? we all know that even if we do the things that are talked about, it doesn't get us close to solving or dealing with the problems. it's outrageous and, quite frankly, the american people can see right through it. we should be doing better. so i filed the amendment today to say that i, for one, will not support more burdens on small businesses. they already face enough problems and challenges. the current unemployment numbers that we're all seeing from states across the country should serve as a wake-up call that people are still hurting. they need some relief. they want to do their best but they're being stifled. that wet blanket is just hurting
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them and creating -- and stopping them from creating jobs. it should be our number-one priority, mr. president, and i hope that it will get the attention and support of every one of my colleagues. if you care about the survival of your state's small businesses, stop proposing and increasing the taxes, increasing regulatory burdens, creating that wet blanket and killing off the incentive to actually go out and hire. so, mr. president, i -- i thank you for your -- your courtesy in the beginning and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands in recess until 2:15 p.m. >> the senate has been debating a nonbinding measure urging high-income earners to contribute more to deficit reduction. a vote is scheduled for tomorrow to limit debate and also on amendments to the bill. more about that measure when senators return at 2:15 eastern here on c-span2. and a little later on at
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3:45 eastern, senate and house leaders head to the white house to discuss debt reduction. we'll have coverage of any reaction.
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>> we're going to have live coverage here at the white house shortly of the daily press briefing by press press. press secretary jay carney. house speaker john boehner saying the debt limit increase is president obama's problem and it is time for the president to put a plan on the table that will pass in congress. this is about ten minutes.
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>> the american people know we have a debt crisis not because they are undertaxed. it is because this president and previous democratic congresses have spent too much. we look at the government takeover of our health care. over a trillion dollars. the president failed stimulus plan. 1.2 trillion with interest. garden-variety government, known as non-defense discorrection nary, up 24% in just two years. an unparalleled spending spree that has helped run
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this economy in the ditch leaving millions of unemployed. and the president's answer? let's raise taxes on job creators. mr. president, the american people don't want that. mr. president, that will not work. besides tax increases on job creators, we've seen no real plan out of the president. as the head of the congressional budget office has said we can not estimate a speech. we can only estimate a plan. house republicans have led with a budget that dealt with the debt crisis that this president and the previous democratic congress has made far, far, worse. 100% of the problem is on the spending side. 100% of the solution has to come from the spending side. >> my message to the white house over the last several months has been real
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simple. the spending cuts have to be larger than the increase in the debt ceiling. secondly there are no tax increases on the table. and thirdly, we have to have real controls in place to make sure this never happens again. real controls like a balanced budget amendment. but the fact is is that house republicans have a plan. we passed our budget back in the spring. outlined our priorities. where's the budgets, where is the president's plan? when is he going to lay his cards on the table? this debt limit increase is his problem and i think it is time for him to lead by putting his plan on the table, something that the congress can pass. >> good morning. you know the president has talked over the last day or so about the need to try and address the big problem, which are the entitlement programs, specifically health care entitlements and their trajectory. and you know, it's gratifying to see that the president joins us in feeling we've got to do something about it because
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as the chairman just said, when chairman hensarling said we were the ones who came forward and said you know what? we'll put health care entitlements in our budget because we believe this is how you get the fiscal house in order. i appreciate the president saying that we need to do something about the long-term health of our country and entitlements. i appreciate the fact that he thinks that he has got some prescriptions to do so. what i don't understand is why in the world would the president then tie that to tax increases? if it's the right thing to do for the country, why is he tying it into imposing greater costs on the people of this country at a time they can least deal with that? >> we all know the point in time where we are. and this short time frame in half a year republicans have been in the majority. they have laid out a budget that actually is on paper
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how they can save the entitlement programs for future generations. we've watched this jobless, under this president and his administration continue to rise. this is a unique opportunity for us to correct the problem. so as our speaker and leader goes down and continue to work with this president to try to find a current form that we can change our spending habits, we will find on the week of the 18th, on this floor, we will bring up for long term a balanced budget amendment. you want to make sure we don't get into this problem again. 16 years ago, this country came one vote shy of having a balanced budget. had that passed we would not be where we are today. so as we go to solve our problem today let's also look to the future because as every american realizes, and you look to your family, it is not what you will become. it is what your children will become. and this is our opportunity,
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our window as one nation, to solve the problem long term. >> our conference just had a great discussion about the future of america and we talked about our commitment to doing what's good and right for america because we believe that this is a critical time, that the debt that we've taken on as a country is is unsustainable and it threatens our economic future. it threatens the opportunities for our children and our frand children. now, yesterday the president came out and said we needed to take the bandaid off, eat our peas and step up. every step of the way the house republicans, this new majority has been a part of the solution. we have put forward our budget. we've been sitting at the table. we've been negotiating in good faith. i would say to the president right now, we need to put back on the table some of the items that he took off early on. he took off the balanced budget amendment early on. he took off changes to obamacare, repeal of obamacare.
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we believe that those are part of the solution and we want to put them back on the table and move forward in a way that is actually going to make sure that america gets its fiscal house in order and back on track. >> mr. cantor, mr. cantor -- >> mr. speaker, mr. speaker, you said this is a time that americans can least afford an increase in taxes. isn't it also a time they can least afford cuts in spending on social services? >> if we don't fix the entitlement programs, they will not exist. the trustees have made clear there are serious deficiencies there. we've got to make some big decisions to make sure these programs that are important to tens of millions of americans, are there for the long term. >> mr. cantor, is, president obama put raising the age to qualify for medicare on the table. essentially we heard reports assigning you a homework assignment what sacred cows would republicans touch. what sacred cows would
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republicans be willing to touch within the debt negotiations? >> i want to say again, we all agree that we've got to do something about the long-term trajectory of the entitlement programs and we've got to fix them for the health of this country. and it is unfathomable to me why our president thinks that he has got to condition any prescription to fix these programs on tax increases. again, if that is what he is looking for, we're not going there because right now, this economy is ailing and we don't believe, nor do i think the american people believe raising taxes is the answer for what is vexing most people in this country. it is a lack of jobs and growth. let's fix the entitlements, like the president said without raising taxes. then we can focus on the issues that he would like to focus on, and we would like to focus on, which is our tax code. but why does, why does he insist on raising taxes when
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we're trying to fix the health of this country. >> mr. speaker -- >> just on the senate floor a few minutes ago leader mcconnell says he doesn't think a deal can be cut with this president in the oval office. during your remarks yesterday you were complimentary with the president and you enjoyed his company. do you agree with your lead iron other side of the building? >> finding an agreement certainly has been elusive. the biden group led talks with eric did a good job representing our caucus. those talks went on for seven weeks. i've been in conversations with the president for the last couple of months and clearly the last couple of weeks in a serious way. and the president talks a good game but when it comes time to actually putting these issues on the table, making decisions they can't quite pull the trigger. listen, i was born with a glass half full. i'm the optimist. i'm going to continue to be the optimist that we can do the right thing for the
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country. >> mr. speaker, mr. speaker you say you want to reach a deal. you say it is important. everyone in the room says the same thing but the president says republicans have to make concessions to move this ball forward. where are these concessions? >> i don't know why he believes that there is going to be any easier for republicans than democrats to make these tough decisions in terms of reducing spending. washington has a spending problem. we don't have a revenue problem. thank you. >> thank you. >> mr. speaker, -- politics make it harder to reach a deal?
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>> as we wait for the white house briefing to start, we'll have more about the debt talks. first i wanted you to know that texas representative ron paul says he will retire from congress when his term runs out in 2012 and will focus on his campaign for president. the 75-year-old republican says he has been criticized in the past for running for congress and the presidency at the same time. so representative paul, serving out his term through december. then focusing on his campaign for president. that in the associated press. president obama has scheduled another meeting this afternoon with congressional leaders for talks about the federal budget and raising the debt ceiling. that is happening at 3:45 eastern time. probably hear about that during the white house briefing shortly. we expect the briefing to begin momentarily. until then, u.s. chamber of commerce senior vice president william miller talked about the debt talks on this morning's "washington journal.". >> host: bill miller, our
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guest for the u.s. senior chamber of commerce. to talk about the group, the president meets with the two sides again today, 3:45 p.m. eastern time. i want to get your reaction to what the president had to say at his news conference yesterday before he headed into the debt talks that day. here's what he had to say. >> i have bent over backwards to work with the republicans to try to come up with a formulation that doesn't require them to vote some time in the next month to increase taxes. what i've said is, identify a revenue package that makes sense, that is commensurate with the sacrifices we're asking other people to make. and then i'm happy to work with you to figure out how else we might do it. >> host: bill miller, do you think the president has done enough, put a deal on the table? should republicans accept what he has put out there? >> guest: i think the one thing that the from the u.s.
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chamber's perspective we definitely believe that the debt ceiling needs to be raised. we can't go into a situation where the full, faith and credit of the united states is ever put in jeopardy. so what the deal looks like at the end of the day, how the trajectory of spending, what the revenues look like, from our perspective we want to judge it when we see it and i think that it's a little bit premature to, speculate on what the deal looks like. >> host: well the president said yesterday though that any tax increase bringing in new revenue wouldn't happen until 2013. >> guest: right. >> host: is that agreeable? >> guest: i think again, we haven't seen all of the, you know, all of the elements of the deal. again, from our perspective, the most important thing is that the u.s. not default on its debt. we've seen with other countries what that means. we certainly haven't seen this in this country. it is our hope, our strong belief it would have very detrimental impact to businesses across the country and really every
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american with regard to higher interest rates and short-term real impact in the stock market. >> host: what about though, allowing the tax cuts, the bush tax cuts to expire for wealthier americans? here is ezra klein's piece this morning. he said back when this was first talked about it was endorsed by alan greenspan. we had a big sur plus and time to do something with it. brad delong, former clinton administration and economist at university of california didn't want to see the surplus spent on tax cuts but public investments. nevertheless he was quoted saying in 2001 it is hard to disagree with greenspan's position if our future economic growth is bright as it appears likely it will be time by the middle of this decade to do something to drastically cut the government surpluses. ten years later there is no surplus. turned out our future economic growth wasn't as bright seemed likely to be in 2001. that plus two trillion in tax cuts and a few trillion
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more in wars and asorted spending left us with large and growing deficits. indeed mr. greenspan now says we should let all the bush tax cuts expire. >> i think that, certainly the chairman has the right to his opinion. i think that there are those that believed in 2001 or those that believed in the 1990s that the internet was going to be something that was a bubble that would never burst. i think that you always are going to see economic cycles that move up and move down but the question of tax cuts or the question of raising taxes at a point in time when we are in kind of an economic funk is probably not the right recipe at this point. >> host: but it wouldn't be right now. the president said if we did this it would be 2013. >> guest: we don't know what the economy will look like in 2013. >> host: tax increases should be off the table? >> guest: i think tax increases, i think there is, there is an important grand
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bargain to be had. i think that from the chamber's perspective, i think that we should look critically at what's in the best interests of america and that if tax increases in a, in a meaningful, significant way, that do not harm the economy are on the table, we should look at them. >> host: what are some examples? >> guest: i think that there are some things and again, i don't want to get into a place where i'm speculating about things. >> host: i think people are interested in what the chamber believes is palatable to business. >> guest: sure. i think what's on the other side? i think that's part of the, the difficulty being outside of the negotiating room, it is difficult to speculate about what are things that you as an industry are willing to give up unless you know what the other side on the spending side are willing to embrace. so i think that from our perspective there may be some things that are important to give up. i just don't think that negotiating in the public is probably the great posture.
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>> host: would you put in maybe problem, tax breaks for oil and gas companies? >> guest: i think those are things we should talk about when we look at what the deal is. >> host: corporate jet owners, all things talked about? >> guest: i think we should look at all the things in context of what a grand bargain looks like. >> host: "the new york times" editorial says ideology trumps economics. they refer to republicans. the republican national chairman irreresponsibly the government find some other way to pay its bills if we do not raise the debt ceiling on august 2nd. that is dangerous nonsense as the president forcefully noted a default could propel interest rates skyward and throw millions of americans out of work and create another recession. do you agree with the "new york times"? >> guest: i do. i think consequences of us not moving forward on a debt ceiling increase are dire. we've never seen it here in america. we've seen it in other countries. the picture is not a pretty one. it is a picture that includes probably a pretty
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steep drop in the stock market. it probably, we are at historic low interest rates. if we look at as, these negotiations are moving forward, one of the things where the budget is so low, i mean in terms of, interest on the national debt, if these interest rates were to spike, that proportion of the national debt is even larger in terms of what the budget looks like. so --. >> host: we're here from the news update from the c-span radio the markets are reacting to what's happening over in europe. this is financial times this morning. markets rocked as debt crisis deepens in both italy and spain. the markets are reacting to that. when do you think you see investors start to react to the debt talks here if no deal is reached and they got closer and closer to august 2nd? when do you see the markets start to react? >> guest: i think it is a little unclear because we haven't been through this. but i think, i applaud both sides. the republican leadership and house and senate
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leadership as well as the white house to understand that this is something that needs to be negotiated earlier rather than later. and, despite that, as most things happen in washington, it kind of takes to the last moment to actually get a deal, whether we had it on the budget and continuing resolution in funding. but, the one thing that is important is that the markets believe that there will was deal. and i think that today you have seen mostly markets that have reacted with some interest but not a great deal of interest because there is a long lead time between now and august 2nd. >> host: go ahead. fin ish your thought. >> guest: i was going to say -- >> "washington journal" every morning starting live at 7:00 a.m. eastern time on c-span. we go live to the white house briefing with press secretary jay carney. >> a very, very warm day. summer in washington. i have no announcements to
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make so i will go right to questions. ben feller of the associated press. >> jay, how are you? >> i'm great, thanks, how are you? >> great, thanks. two questions. i'd like to get your reaction to something speak are said today in which he said the debt limit increase is the president's problem. and then, president obama has to put forward a plan. what is your reaction to those two points? >> the need for the united states to take action so it fulfills its obligations and pays its debts as it has in the entirety of its existence is not a democratic problem, it's not a republican problem. it is an american problem. and it is something that we have to do together. the president feels very strongly about this. i would also note that while congress has to vote it raise the debt ceiling, the
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president doesn't have a vote in this. it is congress that has to act. the president didn't stand up here yesterday and hey, show you a lot of charts and graphs about how previous congresses under a republican president aaccumulated enormous amounts of deficits and debt and this is what they needed to vote to deal with. and it wasn't his problem. he didn't say that because he doesn't believe that. he believes it is his responsiblity as president of the united states to lead, to work with congress to resolve these issues together for the american people. so i, i think that's clearly where this president stands and it's clearly i think the way the american people view this. if we were to default on our obligations, who suffers? democrats, republicans or americans? americans suffer. the american economy suffers. the global economy suffers. >> what about, i guess the
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broader issue here? you've got the speaker's statement that i read. you have senate republican leader, senator mcconnell offering a harsh speech today on the floor which he questioned the president's leadership and said the real solution to this problem probably isn't going to happen as long as this president is in the oval office. i'm curious is this whole process right now moving forwards or backwards? >> what i think was said was unfortunate because this president has made clear his willingness to compromise, to take heat from his own party, to do things that, would force him and democrats to move outside their comfort zone in order to meet republicans halfway to achieve a significant deficit reduction deal, the likes of which i think the american people deserve. this is an opportunity that shouldn't be passed up. this president is going to be in office for at least another 18 months.
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and i think that the american people expect congress to work with him. and, this president surely expects and will make every effort to work with this congress as he has. there really isn't an option. in answer to your question about which direction the process is moving in, i mean by fits and starts the process continues to move forward because despite elevated rhetoric the fact is everyone recognizes, everyone who has been in that room and who will be in that room again this afternoon recognizes that there is no alternative here to taking action and dealing with the problems before us. that there has to be a compromise and, in the end, together, we have to do the right things so we don't default on our obligations, so we can achieve significant deficit reduction. jeff? >> jay, did the president hear senator mcconnell's speech on the floor? >> no. he was in meetings. >> does the white house have
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a more specific reaction to what mcconnell said? >> well i think i addressed it a little bit. but if you have a specific question about a thing that he said? >> is it helpful to this process? >> look, i think, americans expect their leaders in washington to talk to them, not to talk, not to take actions based on the demands of the most vocal elements of their parties, okay? that's true of democrats and it's true of republicans. and, the fact is, no one will get everything he or she wants out of this process. no one will be wholly satisfied by the result. the president knows he won't be. but he will be satisfied by the achievement of an agreement that is balanced and that gets important things done. so, you know, he will continue to work with leaders of both parties. beginning again this afternoon in the roosevelt
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room, to try to find common ground and to reach a compromise so that we can move this process forward and fulfill our obligations. >> even with elevated rhetoric as you said aside, both sides, both positions seem to be very entrenched. how do you see a deal coming when neither side, whether it is the white house, congressional democrats or congressional republicans are indicating any hint of moving on those specific positions? >> well, as i have said throughout this process there's, sometimes there's rhetoric that has been put out there in public that doesn't necessarily match what has often been very constructive and, respectful conversations in the meetings and usually has been. so i think that the leaders will come together, the president and the vice president will come together,
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and they will continue to push forward towards an agreement because there is no all interpretive here as i just said. the president said and leaders themselves have said the consequences of default would be so severe and they would not be esoteric. this would not just be a wall street problem. it would be a problem for americans on main streets across the country. it would affect jobs. it would affect interest rates that correctly -- directly affects housing payments and credit card payments. it would be severe. i think everyone is seized by that reality and recognizes that the path from here to there will certainly, you know, be challenging but, you know, we'll get there. >> last question. do you have specific benchmarks that you would like to see reached on a daily basis as these talks continue? >> no, we don't. we are very aware of and we
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remind others in the room of the fact that we don't have a lot of time here. august 2nd is a hard and fast and real deadline. congress needs time to do the things it would have to do to produce legislation. so we have to back up from that deadline. so we're in the, you know,? a matter of days phase of these negotiations. yes, jake. >> mitch mcconnell says in my view the president presents us with three choices smoik and mirrors, tax hikes, and default. republicans refuse to not do any of above. i hope to do good but refuse to do harm. >> i would simply ask you and everyone else in this room and other reporters who are covering this whether you think that's true because what, for better or worse -- that is actually not true. . .
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>> he's saying i have to. i'm president. this is important.
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it's an opportunity. >> the idea that it's all been smoke and mirrors. is the president willing to raise retirement age for social security and medicare? >> there's no reason for me, or president, to negotiate the particulars from the podium. >> i'm not asking you. i'm asking you a question point blank. >> what we said -- the president stood here and said, not regard to the specific proposal, a lot of the reporting out under the consideration has been accurate. i would simply say for those of you, most of you who are familiar with the issues and know what hard choices are to judge for yourselves whether that -- whether the kinds of things we've been willing to consider do not constitute significant, significant demonstrations of willingness to compromise. i think the answer is they absolutely do.
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this president has never taken a my way or the highway approach. because he understands that he's not a monoarch, that we live in a great democracy built upon a two-party system and by and large, nothing big greats done in washington, unless democrats and republicans come together. they only come together if each side is willing to give the way ronald reagan did and tipp o'neil, bill clinton and newt gingrich, and that's the only way that it gets done when people come together. because of the elected officials here representing the american people, i think it will get done. we will press up until the very end for the biggest possible deal. >> i'm not sure if i've been specific. as the white house reacted at all to what's been doing on at the u.s. embassy in syria? the demonstrations and the violence? >> yes, we have. and the secretary of state has.
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>> i'm wondering if the white house has a respond. >> well, i would simply say that echoing what secretary clinton said, president haasad is not irreplaceable. he has lost legitimacy by not stepping up to lead. we want to see the syria people led and the plans carried out. letting thugs storm the embassy is not acceptable. we've made that clear to the syrian government. it's their responsibility, as it is the responsibility of host nations around the globe to provide security for and maintain security for foreign embassies, in this case, the
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u.s. embassy. >> why does the white house think there's been such tolerance of assad's behavior among the other arab leaders who did not -- who announced gadhafi? >> i don't have an answer to that question for you. i mean what we have said has been very clear about it's -- the unacceptable things he's done, the killing and the rest that has continued even when he had the opportunity to have the meeting with the opposition on july 10th. the unacceptable behavior by the government, the attacks on it's people continued, and that proved that he was not going to lead this transition. yeah? >> thank you. specific to these talks, do you think then the rhetoric that we're hearing in public about republicans does not match the tone of what's going on inside
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the room? >> look, i think it's fair to say the tone inside the room has by and large been, you know, frank and constructive and not highly contentious, at all. it doesn't mean there aren't disagreements. but as was the case certainly in the biden-led talks that, you know, the atmosphere continues to be constructive, and respectful. and we expect that to continue. >> so you think the republicans are there playing through the bait by -- >> no, i -- i don't want to play political analyst from here. i just think that it's important to recognize that we -- we will not get from here to there, either side, if we heed only the
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calls of our most idiological supporters. we have to acknowledge that minimal conditions will not prevail. logic dictates otherwise. this is han not estoteric exercise. because we have the absolute accepted need to deal with fulfilling our obligations and paying our debt. in the end, president remains optimistic that we will reach an agreement. he will continue to fight for the most substantial deficit reduction package possible. he will continue to in the meeting this afternoon and his discussions from this day forward with leaders remind them that none of this is easy.
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so if you are going to do something hard, you might as well go big. you might as well do something historic and reach a significant reduction package that deals with the long-term debt issues for many years to come and allows us to put the american economy back on solid footing as we enter into sort of full bore competition in the 21th century. that's the best outcome here. and that's the outcome he's trying to find. >> while the president pushes for that big deal, will he also be reviewing the math on the more mid ranged package that was discussed? >> well, as he said for a while now, smaller deals are possible. not the short-term ones he's made clear he will not sign. we do not come to the brink of defaults every several weeks or months.
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that's not acceptable. sort of grand bargain, the deals that put us. in $4 trillion over ten to twelve years are possible. has he asked on two occasions now when he he -- when meetings ended for the leaders who's come to the roosevelt room to bring with them their proposals from what can get us to the biggest deal possible. and each member's definition of the biggest deal possible might -- will obviously differ in size. you know, they are doing serious work. both in the room and at the staff level. but the president will continue to push and argue for the most significant package in balanced that will -- in a balanced way achieve, you know, a big number that does something substantial in what he said yesterday. the out years. one the reasons to do the biggest deficit reduction. we talked about it.
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this has been the primary objective, based on their own words that the republicans have put forward last fall. this is moral imperative, economic imperative. behave to get our deficits and debt under control. the president is saying, okay, let's do it. since we have to do it together, then we have to compromise. because obviously, you know, the purist position on the republican side will not pass, will not become law. the purist position will not pass and become law. the alternative it compromise. >> john boehner also said during their week, in fact, he said two months of discussions, a couple of months of discussions the idea of raising taxes was never even on the table, true? >> well, the president from the beginning since his speech at george washington university has made clear the approach he brought to the table that the
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vice president brought to the table was a balanced approach that dealing with spending and the tax code. >> what about the conversations with john boehner? >> i'm not going to characterize those conversations. expect a grand bargain, significant deficit deduction deal is not possible if it's not balanced. certainly not possible, you know, in a divided government with this president and this congress. so the -- but i'm not going to get into the specifics of the negotiations. the private 101 between the speaker and the president. >> shifting gears. bernie sanders on the floor of the senate today. he noted in president obama in 2008 and a tape to address said john mccain's campaign was suggested the best answers for the growing answer on social security might be to cut cost of living adjustments or raise medicare. let me be clear, i will not do either. is that something, the cost of
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living adjustments? >> i will not get into things being considered. the president has been willing to get outside of his comfort zone to discussion different measures to do what he has said. i will go to the general program in terms of social security that he firmly believes and, you know, economist back him up on this. social security is not an accident when you are talk about the near and medium term deficits. he is interested in taking steps to increase it's solvency and strengthen the program. and -- but i don't don't -- whai won't get into is which specific measures might be taken to do that. again, when we talk about making hard choices, you know, he has demonstrated his willingness to do that. because he thinks the american people want something big. the reason when we talk about social security, even though it is not a driver, it is not the problem when we talk about the deficits, it does have long term solvency issues. they can be improved -- you know, they, addressed and we can
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strengthen the program. and he has said if we're going to make tough decisions now in the interest of getting something big, he's willing to have those conversations about all entitlements, including social security. this is not -- this is something that we have always from the state of union address on talked about on a separate track. separate from the need to deal with our deficits. but he is willing to do in the -- in the name of doing something big and comprehensive, talk about what he talked about in the state of the union, which would take measures which would strengthen and increase it's solvency. >> more generally without asking about what they specifically talked about on social security is the situation now so severe that what when -- when the president talked about making tough choices and get out of the comfort zone, does that mean willing to break firm promises he made previously? >> again, i don't know what
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exactly you are referring to. expect for the one you just -- specifics -- but what i will say it requires making tough choices. compromise requires not being where you were in the ideal world when you put a proposal forward in congress that passed the house, even though it had no chance in the senate and no chance to be signed into law. you can stick with that as your absolutist position. or recognize that you are not going to get that and that we are absolutely under an obligation to reach a compromise. you can put forward a framework as the president did in april at george washington university for his vision of $4 trillion in deficit over 10-12 years that deals with spending entitlements and discretionary spending, defense spending, and the tax code. but you can also recognize that you are not going to get that. exactly the way that you wrote it. that's the president's approach. all right. >> jay, my understanding is the
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president in the interview with cbs has suggested that there's some concern that social security checks may not go out august 3rd. can you provide us a little context of that? and did he indeed say that? >> i think it's up to cbs, i don't want to scoop their interview. i think that will air tonight. i mean the fact of the matter is, and secretary geithner has talked about this, we no longer have authority to borrow money. if we do not raise the debt ceiling, which we remain confident will happen, so this is speculative. the fact is one the reasons why we have to take action is because we stop -- we lose our authority to borrow money. as you know, we have obligations that exceed the money that we take in. significantly exceed the money that we take in. and that could then entail a kind of sophie's choice, what bills to pay.
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social security checks, veterans benefits, disability benefits? there are -- the number of decisions that would have to be made, this is beyond my expertise. i encourage you to go to treasury. it's pretty clear the effect will be significant. no, we can't guarantee if there were a default any specific will will be paid. because the choices that some have said, we can just pay interest and pay the bondholders in some cases and in many cases the chinese government and not pay social security, benefits recipients. so that's the kind of choice that nobody wants the united states of america to have to make. that's why the leaders have been clear, and the president feels strongly that will happen. >> does the change in tone you hear some republican leaders saying we maybe ling for a
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missed opportunity in terms of a big deal suggest that we are heading for a august 2nd nail biter on this issue? >> look, i think it is an unfortunate reality that as we've seen with the cr, as we've seen so many times, that we tend to -- congress tends to push these things up to the very last minute. while that's inconvenient in many cases, it is the way things happen. and in this case, it's more than inconvenient. because of even before august 2nd, the possibly if it's perceived to be a possibly that congress will not act in time could have an effect on markets. could have an effect that would be damaging to the economy. so we think it's very important, the president has made it clear. let's not -- let's get this done sooner rather than later. the clock is ticking. >> one quick one on another topic. we understand executive orders coming related to gun-related
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issue. we've already heard from some groups, lawmakers, expressing concerns that this could be trampling on second amendment rights. do you have a response to that? >> first of all, we are talking about the long gun on the southwest border? >> my understanding was changing for the database to be used for background checks? >> i don't have -- i'm not aware of that. if this is an issue, this is a law enforcement issue about illegal gun trafficking to the mexicans on the border states. the long gun one which i refer to you to the justice department for that. i don't have anything for you on that. [inaudible conversations] >> yes. okay. >> the president believes that with the new resolution, it's going to have a real impact on stopping legal arms flow to mexico? >> as we said yesterday, the
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targeted measure will approve the ability of atf to disrupt the illegal weapons network to diverting firearms to criminal and criminal organizations. so yet, we believe it will improve the atf's ability to do that. yes? >> i want to go back to something that you said. you describe them as frank and constructive. given the fact that some people with knowledge have described them as essentially being stalled, can you explain specifically -- >> i didn't say they have come to agreement on the issues. >> but what's the -- >> i mean it was the contrast to some of the heated, fairly partisan rhetoric that has been heard elsewhere. we're not getting that in the room. which is not to say sometimes there aren't starkly absolutelyist positions expressed in the room. that happens sometimes. they are done in very calm and conductive tones. >> and at this point heading into -- [laughter] >> -- the forced meetings, what
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do you think the meetings have accomplished so far? >> i think the meetings have made clear the absolute imperative to take action to make sure the united states fulfilled it's obligations. they've been very -- remember that most people in the room were not participates in the negotiations led by the vice president. some were, but not all. so there's a level of detail and specifity that essentially others are being brought into. obviously, not everybody was involved in the conversations with the president and the speaker of the house were having. you know, there's a sort of broadening of the knowledge base about what has been discussed, where is the possible area of compromise, and where are the challenges, the disagreements that still exist? and, you know, various ways to get from small to big. >> some people have described the meetings as not having
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accomplished anything. how would you describe the meeting? >> i would say it only gets done if we act together. that means the president and the leader of congress of both parties. it doesn't make the meetings easy, it doesn't mean that every minute of every meeting is highly productive. but it does mean that it's essential that we have these meetings to get our work done. we really -- there's no -- it doesn't have to be pleasant for it to be essential. and also i don't want to suggest that it's unpleasant. i'm just saying that that is -- there's really not a choice here. and so it's not like if we just break up and, you know, go do something else that the problem goes away. >> is there any concern given the heated rhetoric that we've heard today that the talk could write down at the end of the today? >> no, because i think there are no alternatives to continuing to talk and to find compromise. i think that it's important to
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remember that the biden led negotiations, as asserted by participating in both parties made significant process. and that as the president made clear here yesterday, he and the speaker of the house had very constructive talks. out of that, there should be and certainly the american people expect and demand that there be potential for compromise. so that's what we are working towards. yeah? >> until just recently, there's been a lot of conversations about changing the cost of living adjustment for social security. but it was always in the context -- >> there you go again. >> always in the context of a social security plan trying to make social security solvent for the long term. how would you respond to people that would say that that's the appropriate way to do this? not as part of the debt negotiations? >> i think i just answered this.
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and the president does believe that this is a separate issue. it's also important. the fact that it's a separate tract doesn't mean it's not -- if there's political will we should do it. and by it, not the specific measure, but to take measures that will strengthen the program and enhance it's long-term solvency without slashing benefits. so the -- i'm not sure -- because we can -- they can happen within the same framework without -- but it doesn't change the fact that taking measures to increase and strengthen the program, increase the solvency and strengthen the program is a way of dealing with the short term deficit issues. because they are not related. >> correct me if i'm wrong, there's been no discussions that the changes in social security would actually solve the 75-year
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social security problem. essentially, you would be taking a bite out of it without really -- >> i don't think anybody is under the illusion that even a significant deficit reduction package or one that includes some of the other things will would all problems for all times. but it is our obligation to take measures to strengthen and increase and lengthen the solvency of the programs that have been the foundation of economic security for america's senior st. st. citizens. medicare and social security. look, the significant reforms that ronald reagan and tipp o'neil made law in the 1980s extended social security solvency and strengthened it for a long time. when that reagan/o'neil compromise, by the way, was a balanced compromise that included dealing with revenue. >> that was all within social
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security. that wouldn't be that way. >> i don't understand the point you are making. it's all in social security. we can do it celebrate or as part of this. it is still solving a separate problem. >> does the president have any plans of traveling outside of washington while the issue is still unresolved? is he committed to staying here? >> i think he's made clear we're going to meet every day until it's done. >> we shouldn't expect him to be taking the case out to the public. >> i don't have any announce announcements to make about the travel schedule, he's committed to meeting with the leaders until it's done. >> on weekends as well? >> yes, sir. >> can you say whether president obama and secretary geithner have had discussions about what you have termed as the sophie's choice type of decisions that they will face on funding come august 2nd? >> i don't know. they have regular meetings. i don't know they've had those
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conversations. i'm secretary geithner has briefed the president on the details of the circumstance that would present itself on august 3rd. but i don't know if they've talked about that. and i'm not sure even again -- i would refer you to the treasury department about how those decisions would be made. >> the president yesterday said he'd like to see more from the business community in terms of lobbying to get more done and sound some of the alarms for the debt ceiling if it's not raised by august 2nd. can you specify some of the actions that you'd like to see and whether or not the letter that was sent today from supporters, is that enough? >> well, look, i don't think -- i think it's a welcome. you cited this, i was going to mention it to you. it was not something that we organized, but the chamber did. a letter from hundreds of business leaders. we believe it is vitally important for the u.s. government to make good on the financial obligations and put
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it's fiscal house in order. first, it is critical that the united states government not default in any way on the fiscal obligations. a great nation, like a great company, has to be relied upon when they become do. this is a main street, not a wall street issue. the debt ceiling triggered, i'm skipping around here. it does offer a immediated catalyst for serious negotiations. avoiding even a technical default is essential. this is the risk our country must not take. second our political leaders must agree to a plan to substantially reduce the long-term budget deficits with the goal of at least stabilizing our nation's debt as a percentage of gdp which will entail difficult choices. we couldn't have said it better. we agree. >> is there more though beyond? >> well, i think everyone has a stake in this. it can be arcane when i and
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others stand up and talk about debt to gdp ratios and, you know, the need to not default on our obligations and to raise the debt ceiling. i honestly -- what is the debt ceiling? i think for most importants it sounds like gobbling gook. they want the economy to be strong, jobs to be created and washington to work. with that as our goal, it's obvious what we have to do. >> having lunch with the ceos to sign the letter and going to be asking them to do more? >> i think that's lunch is happening now. i'm sure they will discuss this issue. there wasn't a printed or written agenda. i'm sure that because this is an issue that so many businesses are worried about, understandably, i'm sure it will come up. yes? >> who is he having lunch with? >> we put it out or gave is to the pool here. he is having -- as we has done without his administration, he
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will have lunch or is having lunch now with four business leaders to discuss ideas to grow the economy and create jobs, the importance of the private sector to grow job training including the ways the companies have been partners with high institution to assure the recruits will have the appropriate backgrounds and skills. they are clarence otis, scott davis, sam pomisano, and matt rose. >> no agenda? >> well, this is a broad outline of one topic they will likely talk about. just because they are going to talk about this doesn't mean they won't talk about the other issues. the other issues are of concern and in the news right now. >> jay, your secretary said this morning not only to push for the debt ceiling, but for the big
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cuts and the administration could use some support. is the white house doing anything to rally those left vocal, less ideological elements? >> meaning which groups in -- i mean i think we're making our case -- the president has come before you. >> lawmakers are responding to sort of the fringes of his party. >> we welcome the letter that was -- i think juliana said 470 business leaders. >> are they doing anything to read chin up -- >> as the president said, we have conversations with business leaders all the time. he does, others do. i'm sure this will be an issue. we're not in some sort of organized effort that i know of. this is pushing on an open door if you will. these are issues that they are very concerned about for obvious reasons. and as the letter makes clear, while they are concerned about it for obvious reasons, it is not a concern limited just to
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business. and it shouldn't be. it's obviously affects every american who has to worry about interest rates, mortgage payments, credit card payments, worries about his or her job, you know, the impact of a default would be catastrophic for so many people around the country and globe that we cannot even entertain the possibility that it might happen. >> the cbs interviews on the web site, i'm going to read from it to clarify. >> are you going to ask me to confirm? >> something like that. this is not just a matter of social security checks. these are veterans checks, folks on disability and their checks, there are about 70 million checks that go out. 70 million are a number that you believe that would stop? very high number. >> i think it's at least that high. that the treasury department issues or the government issues. but i would check with the treasury. yeah? >> what would happen -- would his answer in -- is it an answer to a question or did he
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volunteer? >> it was an answer to a question. >> disappointment will continue to make on his own? >> look, we're not -- if asked and, you know, he's spent a lot of time taking questions. if asked, i think he'll make the point, as he did today. we're not spending a lot of time, you know, warning about what would happen if we defaulted because we do not believe we will default. we accept that leaders of congress have said about the imper missability of allowing the united states to default on it's obligations. we believe we will get there by hook or by crook. you know, through this process. and we will -- congress will vote as necessary, democrats and republicans, because this is not a democratic or republican problem. it's an american problem. we will take action necessary to deal with it.
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and take advantage, hopefully, in the biggest possible way of the opportunity presented here to achieve something significant. remember way back when when the process began, the linkage between raising the debt ceiling and significant deficit reduction was one that was put forward by republicans. they believed it was the primary objective. number one item on their agenda list when it came to domestic policy, economic policy, probably all policy was to deal with cutting spending, reducing our deficit, reducing our long term debt problem. the president has made clear that we accept the challenge and we are willing to compromise to get there. and he still believes, even at this late date, that the biggest possible deal is the best way to go. >> can you tell us what his reaction was when the majority whip cantor, majority leader cantor, said that he considered it in terms of making concessions, their concession in
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return for giving spending cuts is to allow a vote on the debt limit? >> that goes -- that's one version of the question that somebody in the front row asked. that's -- this is not the president's problem. >> i want to know what the section was though. >> i think he was asked about it in the interview. it's what i just said. which is wait a second. this is an american problem. it's not a democratic problem, it's not a republican problem. it's not this president's problem. in fact, as i've said, this is not a vote on new spending. this is a vote to fulfill the obligations made by previous congresses under a previous president by and large. okay? when president clinton left office, there were surpluses. everyone agrees; right? i know that people like to argue over absolutely settled facts. but i think we can all agree that there were budget surpluses when bill clinton left office.
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as far as the eye can see. by the time president obama was sworn into office eight years later, there was the largest debt and deficits in history. okay? these are as the president has said, this is -- these are cars that have already been purchased and vacations taken. now it's time to pay the bills. he did not say, however, when asked about this, it's not my responsibility. it's congress' responsibility because they ran up the bills. they voted and didn't pay for two wars. they voted and didn't pay for substantial tax cuts, including tax cuts for the wealthiest americans. didn't pay for them. medicare prescription drug, including every leader in the room from the republican party didn't pay for it. these are the obligations that we have to now pay. so -- but, you know what the president said, it's my responsibility too. it's my responsibility too. i will work with congress because we have to do this as a
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nation. it's an american challenge. we do it together. >> did he say something to them yesterday in the meeting they had in the afternoon? >> about this issue? >> yes. >> i'm not aware -- i'm -- on different. we're not going to read out the dialogue from the meetings. i'm not aware of anything of that nature that he said. what i've -- when i was just channeling him with a little filigree of my own, that was in response to some of the statements made this morning? >> yeah, the president has reconvened the thoughts on his own offices. has any progress been made? >> yeah, there has. in the sense that as i was saying in answer to laura's question or somebody elses. the parts spent in these meetings having been engaged in the details discussions that were led by the vice president or with the exception of the
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speaker and president, the conversations that the speaker and president had. so there has been progress in that, you know, the -- more people now are aware of what the playing field looks like. where the compromises can be found, and what it takes to build upon a smaller package to the biggest possible package. and the hard choices that getting from small to business require. >> it doesn't sound like anything -- >> that's progress. >> that's progress. if this were easy, we'd be done and having happy hour at 4 p.m. it's not going to happen. >> let me ask you this -- the clear impression this end of the looking glass the positions are hardened. is that wrong? >> well, i think there has been some hardening of positions, restating of absolutist
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positions. we have encountered that along the way. but our only council at this point in response to that is that really time is running out. ladies and gentlemen, we need to put that absolutism aside, leave it at the door, and get to the hard work of reaching an agreement. ma'am? >> did you say this has been moved to the end of the roosevelt room? >> what was it? where we not in the roosevelt room today? i'm sorry. if it's been in the cabinet room, it will be in the cabinet room. i get my fancy rooms with fancy pictures mixed up. [laughter] >> the statements, the public statements that everybody -- people have been making before you go into discussion, do those hurt and make it more difficult to negotiate once you get in the room? >> look, everybody here -- everybody there is an elected official who's been around politics for a long time.
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i think most participating have pretty thick skin. the -- which is not to say it helps. but i think everybody can get over it quickly. >> one other thing, does the white house have any problem with federal dollars being sent to a counseling clinic that engages in the controversial therapy of trying to cure people of being gay? >> and i confess, i do not have an answer to that question. i'm sorry. let me move around a little bit. yes? >> if you could talk a little bit about the assassination of the prime ministers brother in afghanistan and who you guys believe might have been responsible for it, the taliban claimed responsibility and whether or not you think there's an increase in social security? >> well, i would say, obviously, that this is at a personal level. we are -- our prayers and
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sympathies are with the karzai family during this difficult time. the united states condemned in the strongest possible terms the murder of president karzai's half brother in kandahar. we obviously -- we don't know who's responsible. there's been some claims. we will certainly work with the afghan authorities on that. but the -- right now i think the moment here is one. it's a personal one. we express our condolences and condemn the murder. chris? >> some questions on "don't ask, don't tell" the 9th circuit issued an order barring the discussion on the law. is the president aware of the decision? >> is he aware of it? >> i'm sure he heard the news. >> the justice department is reviewing the order. i ill point you to further
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information. the president's decision on "don't ask, don't tell" on the repeal is clear. he fought hard to make it happen. >> was the president court ordered ending this "don't ask, don't tell." >> again i'm going to refer you to the justice department. >> do you think the administration will challenge or appeal? >> i think that's the same answer. >> what effect is it going to have on appeal certification? the president said it's going to happen within a matter of weeks, not months. is it going to have any impact? >> i think the process moves forward. i'm going to refer you to the defense department. i know secretary gates before he left said it was moving along well. we do expect it to the happen in the near future. so i don't think there's an impact. >> is there a date or time set? >> i'd refer you to the defense department. i don't believe so. >> thanks, jay. they said you said president assad is not indispensable. if he's failed to lead the
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transition, why hasn't the president called for him to step down >> >> well, i think you'll note that we have said and the secretary of state has said this, if the president assad has lost his legitimacy. and the issue here is a matter of factual analysis. and that is that president assad had an opportunity to lead this transition. we have always said, you know, he could lead or leave. he had that tainted he passed it up. and for that reason, not because he's lost legitimacy -- it doesn't matter nearly as much as he's lost legitimacy in our eyes. this is a matter of analysis that he's lost legitimacy in the eyes of the syrian people who are increasingly demanding change. there's really a growing consensus among the syrian people that this transition needs to take place. and that president asad -- assad is not going to lead it.
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the syrian people should be able to decide their own future. >> given the 1400 plus deaths in syria that have occurred against civilians, how is it different from libya? >> well, i could review the facts for you. as you know, there was an eminent threat of a massacre. broad-based multination coalition that was not just of the united states or nato rather, but through the united states security council resolution included nato action, as well as coalition participation by nations in the region. and again the opportunity to work in a multination way to forestall a massacre against the libyan people. as we have said throughout the unrest that has affected the region, north africa and the middle east, every demerit every circumstances is different. >> questions? one more. >>.
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i always do one more. >> thank you. will the president speak out of giving illegal aliens in state tuition of colleges and universities? >> i'm not aware of that issue. >> you are not aware of that issue. come on. come on. >> the negotiations on the debt ceiling and the budget continue this afternoon between the president and congressional leaders. another meeting happening at 3:45 eastern. >> now is the time to deal with these issues. if not now -- >> the debt limit is is the limit on borrowing by the federal government and since 1962 has been raised 74 times, the last time in february 2010. learn more and follow the process of raising the debt ceiling online with the c-span video library, search, watch, clip, and share, it's washington
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your way. >> the senate is in recess now for party lunches. senators have been debating a nonbinding measure urging high income earners to contribute more to deficit reduction. a vote is scheduled for tomorrow and answer on amendments to the bill. more debate when senators return at 2:15 eastern, about a half hour from now, here on c-span2. >> this weekend on booktv on c-span2 is everything you know about the ok corral wrong? def tells a different story. on "afterwords" in the trial of 1,000 years, charles looks at the long war of islam against the international state system. and former prime minister jorge talks about about the challenges facing our southern neighbor. look at booktv schedule at
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booktv.org and sign up for schedules in your inbox. >> every weekend, american history tv on c-span3 highlights the 150th anniversary of the civil war. this week, historians on the events that led to the 1861 attack on fort sumter, and the battle of bull run marks the war. the civil war, every weekend on american history tv on c-span3. >> now a discussion about the 14th amendment and whether the debt ceiling is unconstitutional from this morning's "washington journal." >> host: we're back with michael bromwich who is a law professor. here to talk about the 14th amendment, section four of the constitution. we showed it to you here just a minute ago. it says the validity of the public debt shall not be
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questioned. professor bromwich, how did it end up in the constitution? what does it mean? >> guest: absolutely. the civil war was like most wars, terrible and expensive. it's borrowing from the north and south to finance the war. and the winners of the war, the union, of course, wanted to ensure that it's debt would be paid off. but the confederate debt would not be paid off. initially, they put in a separate sentence from section 4 indicating that the con food rat debt would be repudiated. there was some concern when they returned to the union, they might try to repudiate the union debt. they wanted to make sure that happened. it invalidates the confederate
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debt and not the union debt. even though there's specifics about the war itself, it seems to imply beyond debts incurred in war. >> host: but it refers to pensions. >> guest: yes, one question they have about public debt, is what does public debt mean? i think when we think about what it means, it's bonds. some controversial that's included in the public debt. one the hard questions, i think there are a number of hard questions, one the hard questions about the clause is what else is included in the public debt? the fact that pensions is specifically mentioned, specifically mentioned in regard to the war itself, but suggest that at least government pension would also be included in the public debt. some have argued from that that maybe social security is included. i think that's a little bit of a stretch. social security is not the same as pension.
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it's not guaranteed in the same way. some suggest the government has no obligation to pay social security. >> host: the debt ceiling is a statute written in law. what makess -- what part of the constitution makes the debt ceiling unconstitutional? does it? what's the reading? >> guest: the argument, and it's controversial and hard to interpret. but the argument for the debt ceiling being unconstitutional is that if we hit the debt ceiling, as it seems we might, and simply stop paying our bills, among those bills that we failed to pay will be billed on the public debt. payment, for example, on bonds that the united states is obliged to pay. the argument is that it's unconstitutional, this is a statute that if we continue to follow will lead to unconstitutional occurrence. it will lead to a default and failure to pay the debt. that's the questioning of the debt. that's the word and not ideal,
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that's the word that the 14th amendment uses. >> if the president can -- if you agree with that and you say those are -- they are advocates out there that say the president should be threatening this to ignore the debt ceiling statute and go ahead and pay our bills. if the president can do whatever is necessary, where is the logical stopping point? >> guest: that is certainly an argument that's used by those who argue that the public debt clause does not give the president a basis for ignoring the debt ceiling. their conclusion is what's unconstitutional is default. there are lots of different factors contributing to the default. not just the debt ceiling. level of taxation and spending that we have. they argue there's a slippery slope that if we really believe that the president can ignore the debt ceiling to make payments on the debt, maybe he can do other more dramatic things and increase taxes. ordinarily, i can't, but because we can't have a default on the
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debt, i'm going to announce taxes right now. >> host: has the supreme court ever weighed in on this part of the constitution? >> guest: this is one case from early to mid 20th century. called perry. and the supreme court did seem the acknowledge the existence of the clause. i think some people have made too much of it on both sides. in the end, the supreme court found a way not to award damages in that case. i think the most critical section, it did seem to acknowledge at the very least this was a clause that had continuing relevance beyond the civil war. it's not simply a clause limited to debt that existed prior to the passage of the 14th amendment. >> host: congressman tim scott has said it would be impeachable for the president to find a way around congressional authority to raise the debt ceiling. >> guest: sure. i think people who are concerned that the ft. may make this move and are concerned that that may give the president more leverage in these discussions, i think,
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want to raise the stakes that the president doesn't do this. one can argue, of course, was impeachable? high crime and misdemeanor or not. even if one agrees that what the president is doing is unconstitutional. i think that would be unusual, unusual to pay that an interpretation of the law by the president would amount to an impeachable offense. the reality is the impeachable offense is whatever the congress says it is. >> host: the congress refers to the part of the congress that says that only congress has the power to borrow money on the credit of the united states. >> guest: absolutely. and this is forms a strong part of the argument for those that claim the president cannot ignore the debt ceiling. ordinarily, we need to have legislation for the president to issue debt. those on the other side say there's lots of legislation. there's just one line out there in the debt ceiling that's creates a problem now. if we conclude the one line and
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one statute will lead to unconstitutional occurrence, we can say that's unconstitutional. we still have authority and all of the statutes to have the issuance of debt. and therefore, he wouldn't be acting, the argument is, without congressional authority. he will be acting with congressional authority, ignoring the one line that most immediately would lead to default. >> host: michael bromwich is the guest for the next half hour. we're talking about the 14th amendment, it says the law included debt incurred for payments of pensions should not be questioned. if you want to call in and you are a democrat, -- >> host: or go to twitter,
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c-spanwj. hal, a republican from dallas, texas. >> caller: i think it's constitutional. but i've been trying to get through to you guys for two or three days about, you know, our being over extended and -- >> host: okay. hal, you are on now. what's your question? [buzzer] >> caller: well, i have a statement first and then i have a question also. on this debt i think there's a lot of things that can be done. i think we should -- i'm 73 years old too. but i think we should put social security, medicare, raising taxes, all of that should be on the table. it should be talked about. for instance, i think we ought to look back in history. if we look back when jim -- when carter was president, they raised the taxes on the top two%
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of the increase earners and our economy was better then than it ever was. >> host: all right. we'll leave it there. he says the debt is constitutional. gallon >> guest: one point he made, unsustainable. even apart from the debt ceiling that it will lead to unsustainable accumulation of debt. that's one the puzzles of the public debt clause of the 14th amendment. arguably, not only the 14th amendment, not only renders the debt clause, debt ceiling unconstitutional, but also renders our entire fiscal situation unconstitutional in the sense that hypothetically congress were not to pass any more laws that eventually, medicare would explode so much we wouldn't have the money to pay for it in the very, very long term. a lot of people don't think we'll get there. but there's a double-edged sword
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on the public sword. on the one hand, it says maybe failure to pay flow would be unconstitutional. maybe we're already in unconstitutional situation. grandfather -- >> host: the debt limit is the legal limit, it includes military salaries, interest, et cetera. the debt limit has been raised, how many times has the debt limit been raised since 1960? 78 time to permanently, temporarily extent, or revise. 49 times under gop, 29 times under democrat. david, democratic caller, go ahead. >> caller: good morning, folks. thank you, michael, for being with us. this is tough to ask this. i'm not really educated to your degree. but, you know, the constitution seems to be manipulated by the
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multimillionaires that are running the government. it would seems to me as president obama, constitutional law scholar, he granted immunity for the telephone for spying on america. that seems like a violation of constitution. i wondered what your thought on that was. it also seems as though the fox is in the hen house. up is down, down is up. you have the society where the young children can't get jobs. newly graduated. but yet you want the senior citizens to work until they die so that you don't have to pay in -- pay them off on the ponzi scheme called social security. >> host: a lot there. let's get the guest's response. >> guest: sure. one thing about the constitution, there's debates with a lot of people with different philosophies how to interpret. we've seen a lot of debates about whether the property is properly interpreting laws and the constitution. and whatever one's view about
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clean meaning in general -- whatever one's view about whether many provisions can be read with plain meeting and read clearly. i think this is one that at least somewhat difficult to interpret. i wrote a paper on the clause 15 years ago. i've struggled a lot trying to figure out the questions, such as what does the debt mean? there's room for reasonable debate at least. we've seen reasonable debate and people on both sides, some people on both sides take the other position. lauren, for example, an democrat seems to say the president should not use this. there are those on the other side as well. >> host: the white house, we should make clear, is using the 14th amendment is off of the table. they have been encouraged by members of congress and other progressives to at least threaten the use of 14th amendment. >> guest: there seems to be other things off of the table as well. short term deals.
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everything is back on the table. we don't know what, but some things. >> host: fred, republican. >> caller: i don't believe they should raise the debt ceiling. i'm an example of it. i'm 62 years old, i mean i'm 78, i retired at 62, i've already collected more social security payments than i ever paid into it. it's obviously -- it's a pyramid scheme for the ones on the top. i just happen to be on the top. and i can also say that i was -- i'm an lazy american. i worked as the as possible, i never made more than $20,000 annual income. and -- but i grow my own food, you know, garden, i hunt, i own my own house, i paid it off, but i was a lazy american. nobody should pay for me. i've already collected more than i paid in. i don't know why they don't just
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pay back all of the money that people have put in, say from 55 under, you pay them all of their money back with all interest, compounded zest -- interest and get rid of social security. it's just stupid. >> host: those are fred's ideas. we'll go to carl in chicago. >> caller: good morning. i would like to ask the guest a question. before i do that, would you agree that on the debt -- they were talking about raising the debt ceiling, the debt is already debt that we currently have. it's not something new. but current debt for things that we've already spend money on? >> host: professor. hold on. let me have him answer that. >> guest: sure. if we take out more debt to make payments we'll have to make payments on that debt too. blood count -- >> caller: okay. my question is this, the constitution that has laid out
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responsibility for all three branches of government. if one of those branches doesn't fulfill the obligation in the constitution does that open the door for one the other branches to step in and fill the void or not? >> guest: sure. there's a lots of controversy about this. one question it leads to is the question of whether the judiciary has some potential role in this. i think the general view that if president obama were to conclude that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional or at least unconstitutional as applied in the particular case of right after -- when a payment is necessary. that the courts probably wouldn't actually review that. there's some talk that perhaps they might be able to review it later if people who have positions in credit default, filed a lawsuit, probably not. it's also possibly that some people that polled debt now, would bring a lawsuit trying to
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get some kind of declaratory or junctiontive relief trying to get the courts from president obama to declare the debt ceiling is unconstitutional. there are a variety of opticals. >> host: on the republican line. welcome to the conversation. >> caller: yes, on the debt ceiling, it's merely like my credit card. you raise the level of spending. you give me the right to spend more money. so pay our bills, all we need to do really is to stop the spending we are predicting we're going to spend like on welfare and medicaid and government pensions and government salary ies. they are all people that we the taxpayer are keeping in
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existence. >> guest: yeah, i think that part of the political dynamic here is i think both sides want to avoid a default. they realize that would be at the very at least expensive in a sense that we would have larger interest rates. it maybe there's some asymmetry in terms of how much each sides cares. particularly small republican, if we took the position we're never going to raise and live within that through some combinations of tax increases and spending decreases. if you are forced to make the decision on the year to year bases, people pretend to prefer the -- tend to prefer spending cuts to tax increases. i think one kind of the asymmetry in the leverage that we have in those negotiations is that the -- some republicans think maybe it'll be bad. maybe not quite as bad as some democrats. i think everybody agrees that it would be bad. that's perhaps one reason that
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we see the president willing to upset the relatively large numbers of spending cuts. >> host: tweeted in. >> guest: sure. you know, one question -- might be going back in time and you thought, well, would be it be a good idea to have a provision in the constitution that says we're not going to default. probably the answer is yes. whether people think we're not going to default, we get better interest rates. one concern about the position, no, we can default which is the position that those that say that the debt ceiling is binding take is that they are after people that think section 4 isn't a big deal. even if it's contemporary. that be section four is irrelevant. we no longer have the sense of that constitutional restriction on default exist.
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that constitutional are default with the commitments to not defaulting helps us lower borrowing cost. >> host: there's a legal precedence as well? >> guest: one legal precedence. not a lot of legal. the historical tends to take over. people think, well, this is a feeling that many have. we've had the debt ceiling for a long time. it was raised 78 times. there hasn't been the discussion of whether it's unconstitutional. some people start to think we've had it for so long and assumed it's unconstitutional, it must be constitutional. no, no the provision has been in the constitution the whole time. we've never gotten to the point where it matters. >> host: "washington post" had the headline yesterday.
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>> host: what happened then? >> guest: there were lawsuits. no doubt there would be lawsuits by bondholders if there's a delay in payment. very little that they will receive everything back plus interest. >> host: the law is on their side. >> guest: yes, unless the government were to try to stop that, which it wouldn't be eliminating the sovereign immunity -- i'm sorry, by claiming the sovereign immunity. the lawsuits could be brought. once the money exists to pay people back, they will get their money eventually. >> host: with interest? >> guest: with interest. that's what happened in 1979. there's at least one academic paper that argues there was an adverse effect on the borrowing class then on even the temporary default simply because the sense of the treasury bond is being a perfectly safe investment was eradicated. that's kind of the concern here. people still tend to think of
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perfectly safe or close to perfectly safe. even the tiny bit of risk might mean even if realistically, everybody agrees. bondholders will be paid back even if we had a two month or three month stand off. >> host: ed, independent. good morning. >> caller: good morning. my question is a little similar to some previous callers. but that the constitution set it up so that the congress has the authority to make debt going forward for bond purpose involving money. but the debt that we're discussing where the possibly could be a default, they don't come to an agreement is debt that already occurred. wouldn't a major argument by president obama if he needed to to say listen this country is never going to -- not going to
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default instead. that's why he could use that -- the 14th amendment to his advantage to leverage so that this country never does default. this country should never come to that point. i want to see what the professor has to say about that. thank you. >> guest: i think at the very at least politically some some attraction from the position that what happens happening we're going to default. one thing about the debate is the president could take three positions. one, he could be saying as he seems, we're going to ignore section 4 of the 14th amendment. one, it's unconstitutional. we're going to act like we never had the crisis. then there's the intermediate. which he might say we think the debt ceiling is binding expect to the extent it would lead to a default on past debt. expect to the extend that we
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might need to issue some existing debt to pay off past debt. that's program an attractive intermediate position both legally and politically. that would still leave a great crisis. stop making social security payments, there would be a big crisis. there would be a lot of incentives for democrats and republicans to come together. at least in that case, it wouldn't lead to the default on the debt that would adversely affect our future ability to borrow. >> host: on the republican line in pennsylvania. >> caller: hi. how are you? >> host: morning. >> caller: morning. my thing is that my question is how much are we paying, like for people that didn't really pay into the social security system and didn't work such as these kids that are hooked on drugs and that are alcoholics and
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collecting ssi -- >> host: alaina, i think that's out of our guests expertise. on to liz. >> caller: hi, good morning, america. i kind of do not agree with the republican agenda. i wanted to make that statement. i really feel that they want to take away benefits to people on social security, but yet they give subsidy to billionaire oil companies. to me that doesn't make any sense. plus the government borrows money from social security. so social security is sort of an asset. as far as the constitution goes, a crazy question, we are talking about impeachment of the president. is there any way that the general public can remove members of congress from the
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receipt? sort of public impeachment of people that don't do their jobs? >> guest: no. you can't recall your congressman expect every two years in the house, and every six years for the senate. one thing i think we see is a lot of callers are bringing up general positions, their views on social security, for example, medicare, defense, and so on. i think that's one the things that makes it so hard. it is a game of chicken. we have games of chicken in which we have a statute. everybody knows it has to get done. here we have a game of chicken where everything is on the table. suddenly every issue, debate, grievance has to get worked out. that brings everything from defense spending, social security, medicare, corporate tax cuts. that's one reason it's hard. one reason it's going to be resolved very shortly before the
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deadline. it would be smart of the parties not to do it earlier. if they did it earlier, we need to have enough time. if there's enough time for everybody to think about it and argue about it, parties are going to back off. have a vote. yes or no. no time for the public debate. >> host: the more time there is, the more they hate it. >> guest: i think so. once there's -- let's say there's a week. we have a week before the congressional vote. everybody has time to think about it. during that whole week, both sides are going to try to get more out of it. here's what we didn't get. the deal has to get done at the deadline, you have to -- congressman are going to have to stay little late that night and vote right there and then and quickly so that we don't have enough time for whatever fragile coalition emerges. >> host: this is a tweet. >> guest: sure.
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and i think that historically i'm -- surprisingly those appointed by republicans tend to take interpretive positions on how to interpret the constitution. >> host: what would they say about the 14th amendment? >> guest: it has a never of provision. protect, due process, treaties has been written about each. too many issues to talk about. one question to what extent does the interpretive philosophies spill over on to section four? and there might be some who say we should read it literally, or look at the text of the constitution, scalia would take that view. even the text here. it's hard to interpret in the context. >> host: we'll go to maryland, robert independent caller. >> caller: how are you doing this morning? i hope you don't cut me off. give me a minute to make a
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statement or two. seven times during the last political administration the republicans have passed the thing -- >> host: debt ceils. >> caller: debt ceiling. seven times. and nothing was said. they took the money, rerouted all of the taxpayers money straight to the credit people who controls all of the money. >> host: okay. i got your point. why don't we ask our guest about whether it was raised in the past -- >> for more of this go to the web site, c-span.org. the senate is returning after party lunches. they have been debating a nonbinding measure to contribute to deficit reduction. appropriations committee.
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this bill basically marked its spending level to the level approved by the house of representatives that passed subcommittee, full committee, and on the house floor. bottom line: for -- it's budget authority discretionary spending. the bill comes in $1.2 billion below the president's spending request, $620 million below last year's enacted level, and is even $2.6 million below the house. there are no earmarks in this bill. few details here: irk the bill does provide $128 billion to support over 22 million veterans. that's $182 million in budget authority discretionary below the administration's request. the bill provides $13.7 billion for military construction. that's about $1 billion below the administration's q or $279
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million below the house bill. our senate bill cuts or eliminateeliminates 24 separate, and all of those cut decisions were made in coordination with chairman levin and ranking member mccain from the draft senate armed services bill so that appropriations and authorization ared up. we also completely denied funding for the building of a new facility to house the current court of appeals for veterans claims. the bill also lays the policy groundwork for making further spending reductions in out years for obama administration potential requests for funding in south korea, germany, and bahrain. in short, we believe that this bill should move forward, that the appropriations committee should begin its regular work. and because this is a unanimous bipartisan product from the
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senate appropriations bill and it marks to the house level, i urge members to support cloture on a vote that we expect tomorrow morning. with that, i'd yield back, mr. president. mr. cardin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that capital michael k. lynch, u.s. army aviation officer whose currently serving as the defense legislative fellow for the majority leader, be granted floor privileges for the duration of s. 125, the military construction authorization act for fiscal year 2012. the presiding officer: officer without objection, so ordered. mr. cardin: i take this time to talk about the pending business, which dwells how we're going to deal with the deficit of this country and the debt ceiling limit that will be exceeded in august if we don't take any action in the congress. first, let me talk a little bit about the debt ceiling. there's been a lot of talk about the debt ceiling as to what is the responsible thing for
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congress to do. we all know that over the last 50 years or so, the debt ceiling has increased over 80 tiessments it's done after the fact. that means we've already incurred the liability. the decisions we've to make in regards to our fiscal policies need -- now we've to pay our bills and raising the debt ceil something not only a legal responsibility that we have to pay our bills, it's has moral responsibility and speaks to whether we're willing to live up to our obligations. failure to raise the debt ceiling would be irresponsible. it would jeopardize our national security, because it would cost taxpayers more money. and it would say to the world that the u.s. bonds, which are the safest in the world, were called into question. so i think we all should agree
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that we need to make sure that we increase the debt ceiling in time. so that we do not cause those adverse effects to our nation. now, i must tell you, i do think that the debt ceiling debate gives us an opportunity to do something about the deficit. our deficit is not success stainable f we don't change course, our debt will don't large as a percentage of our economy and it's not sustainable. that means we need to deal with spending and we need to deal with revenue and to bring it into balance. we need discussions on the debt ceiling could be the opportunity for us to develop a credible plan to manage our deficit. i certainly hope that's the case. that we come together with a credible plan to manage our deficit. i would hope it would be bipartisan, that democrats and republicans would work together ton a plan. it wouldn't be exactly what either side wants. in fact, we both would have to make compromises. if we did that, if we have a
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credible plan, i think it would stimulate our economy and would clearly help us create more jobs, which is the best thing we could do to help reduce our deficit. now, i think in order as a starting point we have to understand how we got to this point. 10 years ago we had surpluses. ten short years ago we had surpluses. and we were concerned that we might be retiring all of our privately held debt. i was proud to have been part of the congress that voted on the legislation that brought our deficits not only down but gave us a surplus and one of the largest periods of economic growth in america's history. then during the previous administration, which inherited the large surplus, policies were brought forward to cut taxes not once but twice. many of those tax cuts went to our wealthiest people.
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the united states went to war in two countries and borrowed money in order to pursue those wars. the first time i think in modern history that the united states wefnts to war and asked the people to sacrifice by cutting taxes. the end result was the large deficits. and when barack obama became president, he had huge deficits, unlike george w. bush, who had huge surpluses. when george w. bush took the oath of os for president circumstance our economy was growing circumstance. when barack obama became president of the united states, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month. that is the current situation that we face today, is that we now have these deficits that we have to deal with. how do we deal with the deficits? well, we need a balanced approach. i miss tell you, mr. president, i am -- i must tell, mr. president, i am proud that senator conrad, on behalf of the democrats on the budget committee, has come forward with a credible plan that preserves
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the priorities of this country to grow and does bring our deficit under control. i'm proud to be a member of the budget committee, working with senator conrad and working with my democratic colleagues to put together the plan that senator conrad spoke on the floor earlier this week. first the most important thing about senator conrad's budget is that it brings down the deficit by $4 trillion over the next ten years. it actually has more deficit reduction than it the house-passed so-called ryan plan that the republicans in the house have sent over to us. the conrad plan that the senate democrats have come up with will bring about more deficit reduction and substantially more deficit reduction than the bowles-simpson commission had recommended. because we're using more accurate numbers. it would stablize the debt by
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2014. and that's a very important point. i think what we're all trying to do is manage our deficit and at the same time help our economy. and that's what the conrad budget does. it stablizes the debt by 2014. and it starts with reducing domestic spending. when we look at spending generally, what's happened, where now spending about 24.1% of our g.d.p. in federal spending. the conrad budget would bring that down to 22.1%, a substantial reduction in our spending programs. mr. president, let me just tell you that 22.1% would be the same amount of government spending as we were spending during the reagan presidency. this is not any radical approach to say we're going to spend a lot more money. instead, we're bringing spending down to the level when ronald
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reagan was president of the united states. the budget would also deal with our obligations for a mandatory spending. now, i must tell you, i think we took major steps to do that in the last congress. the passage of the affordable care act helped us to put forward a blueprint to manage our health care costs as a nation. by providing universal coverage, by investing in health information technology, by investing in wellness programs, by investing in dealing with reducing reemissions -- readmissions to hospitals and the list goes on and on and on dominican republic we were getting a handle on health care costs. the bill we passed in the last congress will reduce federal spending by over $1 trillion over the next 20 years. by reducing health care costs, we reduce medicare and medicaid future responsibilities. so we've already taken some steps, and the conrad budget
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that the democrats in the senate have brought forward will build on that to bring about additional savings in domestic spending. but the important thing about the budget that senator conrad has brought forward, as compared to the ryan budget, the republican budget that passed the house, is that the conrad budget invests in america's future. because it's balanced, we invest in what's important for job brog in america, we continue to make education a top priority, so that american families can afford to send their children to college, so that we invest in improving educational opportunity for all people in our nation. the conrad budget allows us to invest in innovation, so america can continue to lead the world in innovation. that's been our -- where we've created so many jobs. in my own state of maryland, i
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look at where the job growth is, and i see small, innohave aive -- innovative companies developing ways to protect our nation in cybersecurity. i see them finding ways to deal with solving our energy problems and moving forward with health technology, all in innovation, all from the ability to use our creative genius to keep america in the lead economically. and the conrad budget allows us to continue our investments at n.i.h. in basic research. the ryan budget doesn't allow us to do that. significant cutbacks in all those areas. the conrad budget which the house democrats have brought forward allows to invest in our infrastructure, our roads, bridges, water systems, so we can create more jobs for the people of this nation. the budget also deals with our
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military spending. let kneel you one fact i think the people of this nation should understand. america spends as much in defense as almost the entire amount spent by all the other nations of the world. it's difficult to see how our nation can continue to grow the way we want to with so much of our budget tied up in the defense -- in national defense. we need to figure out a way to do this in a better way, and we can save money in all of our spending. between 1997 and 2011, the defense budget of our country grew from $254 billion a year to $688 billion a year. so what does the republican budget do? they just increase those numbers dramatically over the next year, five years, ten years. the democratic proposal recognizes the reality that we
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can bring our combat troops home from afghanistan, that we can expect the international community to do more, and we can bring about savings on the military side. but let me talk about the last major component of the conrad budget and how it differs substantially from the ryan budget. and that is the area of revenues, and i know there's been a lot of discussion about revenues. so what does the democratic budget do in this regard? it takes our revenues to $19.-- 19.5% of our gross domestic product, g.d.p. mr. president, that's the same amount that was raised during the clinton presidency when we had unprecedented prosperity and job growth in america. how did we get there? how did we get the revenues that we need in order to be able to
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bring this debt under control? well, senator conrad has given us some direction on how we can do that. he's pointed out that shelters and loopholes need to be closed. these are inefficiencies in our tax code today. i've taken the floor on two occasions recently to talk about some that i think we should eliminate. one, the ethanol subsidy. we had a vote on the floor of the senate. the majority of the senators voted in favor of eliminating the ethanol subsidy. why? because it is not needed. eth not sales are not depend -- ethanol sales are not dependent on a federal tax break. secondly, it is causing a disruption in the agricultural community. i pointed out the poultry industry in maryland suffers from the high price of corn costing us jobs. so eliminating the ethanol subsidy is a win-win situation. why not take the money and use it for deficit reduction? i've also pointed out that the major gas companies in this country are receiving subsidies from the taxpayers.
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their profits in the first three months of this year were $34 billion. they certainly don't need the help from the taxpayers. the taxpayers have already given them too much in the price of gasoline at the pump, which has hurt our economy except for the profits of the gasoline companies. so there -- there are tax loopholes, they're shelters that could be closed that amount to a substantial amount of federal expenditures. and, yes, the highest income taxpayers, the millionaires and billionaires, is it reasonable or right or fair to expect that they should continue to get these lower tax rates that were temporarily extended under the bush administration indefinitely when we're trying to figure out ways in which we can bring the budget into balance? i must tell you that senator conrad has made it very clear that there would be no change from the current tax rates for
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those families that have a million dollars of income or less. that's a pretty i think generous commitment about not changing tax rates, particularly during these economic times. so let's compare the budgets. the republican budget, the ryan budget says, look, all the savings is going to come out of the spending side and, in fact, we're going to have some additional tax cuts. asking middle-income families to pay more while our wealthiest enjoy even more tax breaks. the democratic budget submitted by senator conrad says we're going to be balanced. 50% of our deficit reduction was on the revenue side but that includes reducing tax expenditures, tax spending. we spend money in the tax code. $1.4 trillion a year. i really don't understand the difference if we're spending money on housing on the tack code or spending money on housing on the -- on the
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appropriations bill. both should be subject to the same type of scrutiny. so why aren't we using a similar standard? well, we have a chance to do that in the conrad budget. 50% from revenues, including tax spending. 50% from the direct spending cuts. that's a balanced approach. that's a credible approach. it's an approach that will protect our most vulnerable. our students are protected to make sure that we continue our commitment to education and to the cost of higher education through the pell grants. our seniors are protected in that we do not do what the ryan budget would do with medicare and medicaid. let me remind you that the budget that the republicans passed in the house would change medicare fundamentally, changing it from a program that guarantees benefits to our seniors to a program where seniors would get a voucher and
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have to go out and buy a private insurance company, be at the whim of private insurance companies for adequate protection against their health care needs. estimated that their health care costs would grow when fully implemented by $6,000 a year. i can tell you the seniors of maryland cannot afford that extra $6,000 a year. that will be the difference between an individual getting adequate health care or not. the conrad budget rejects that type of radical change in our medicare system. the ryan budget would require the block granting of medicaid to our states. our states are already burdened. the chances of them being able to maintain their commitment to young people who depend on the medicaid system or seniors who depend upon it for long-term care is very remote. the conrad budget protects those programs to make sure that we live up to our commitments to provide adequate protection to our families and to our seniors. social security is protected in
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the -- in the conrad budget because social security didn't cause the deficit. social security should be considered outside the budget debates and i think more and more of the members are now coming to that conclusion. and let me mention one other point that i think is very important about the democratic budget that senator conrad has brought forward. it recognizes our federal work force. mr. president, i know you're particularly concerned about that, representing the state of virginia. i'm particularly concerned about that representing the people of maryland. we have a lot of dedicated federal workers who devoted their careers to helping this nation by protecting our nation and -- in their service, in -- in homeland security or protecting us in regards to how they deal with health services or how they deal with our veterans. these are dedicated people. and they've already contributed to this deficit reduction. two-year pay freeze has already been implemented. it was the first -- one of the
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first. so they have -- they have already done their share in helping us bring our budget into balance. the conrad budget i'm proud to say says that's enough. let's not jeopardize our federal work force by reducing their compensation package in addition to the freezes. it shows that we can do it that way. take a look at the ryan budget that republicans have sent over. major reductions in the compensation packages going forward for our federal work force. there's a better way. the better way is the conrad budget. quite frankly, we have a choice. we have a choice whether we're going to move forward and how we're going to move forward. i strongly support a credible plan to deal with the deficit. as i said, we need to get our deficit under control but we can do it in a way that preserves opportunities for all americans, creating job opportunities that are desperately needed for our nation and protecting america's
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most vulnerable. to me, that is maintaining america's future. that's giving us the best hope that our children and grandchildren will enjoy the opportunities of this great nation. and that should be the guiding force for our work here. i certainly hope my colleagues will work together so that we can come together for the future of this nation. and with that, mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: madam president, i would ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: the senator from missouri is recognized, and without objection, so ordered. mr. blunt: madam president, conversations continue today about exactly how we're going to
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meet the financial obligations that our country faces. the fundamental question on hand seems to be do we borrow more and spend more or do we make the types of serious, tough decisions that will make our nation -- that will get our nation back on a sound financial footing? today our national debt stands at over $14 trillion. unemployment continues to rise with more than 14 million americans out of work now, and the government continues to spend more money than it collects or than i believe it should collect. as cochairs of the president's own fiscal commission have warned, if we fail to take swift and serious actions, the united states faces, according to them, the most predictable economic crisis in history. a quote attributed to many people including my fellow missourian mark twain, it's hard to make predictions, especially when you're talking about the
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future. but the thing that's the easiest to predict is demographics. if you know how many people are here now and have all the other demographic information you need, you should be able to figure out what the population is going to look like. and as the population gets older, our programs for seniors will cost more. at his news conference yesterday, president obama was asked about social security reform, and he said in a statement i didn't quite understand, social security is not the source of our deficit problem, but then he went on to say the reason that we do social security in the debt ceiling plan is to strengthen social security to make sure that benefits are there for the seniors in the out years. well, i agree totally. this is the time to deal with social security, particularly the time to deal with social security if you're going to deal with social security in a way that doesn't impact anyone who is retired or anyone who is approaching retirement. the president went on to say
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that republicans want to talk about social security as part of a broader deal because it's politically difficult to vote on. now, i actually think that a lot of republicans and a lot of democrats want to talk about social security because we know that now is the right time to save it, and that if you're going to save it for future generations, you have to start sooner rather than later. madam president, our colleague, senator baucus, the chairman of the finance committee, said during a hearing in may on deficit reduction and social security, quoting senator baucus, addressing our deficits and debts is an economic issue, a national security issue and a moral issue, and he went on to say, quoting him again, "we have a moral obligation to leave this place better than we found it." ending his quote. but, madam president, i agree with his quote. if we're going to leave social security better than we found
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it, we have to begin to work on it right now. each year, social security costs are higher. this year, they are going to be 3.6% higher than last year. that's a one-year increase, 3.6% in one year. the worker to beneficiary ratio -- and we know how social security works, people paying in largely fund the money that's going out today. people paying in in 2035 will be 2.1 for every person working. and in the current system, there is no way that the pages on the floor here today are going to be able to take -- to pay half of whatever the average recipient gets, but that's what you would have to do if we don't change the system. we have to deal with the deficits facing social security, and i think we need to deal with them right now, whether it's politically difficult or not. otherwise, there won't be a social security program that works for the people who are paying in today.
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social security no longer collects what it spends. we have a $45 billion deficit or a shortfall in 2011, and the truth is we're still cashing in the i.o.u.'s to social security and we'll do that as long as they are there, but eventually those i.o.u.'s run out as well over the next ten years, it's projected that we will spend spend $450 billion, $447 billion more than comes into the social security trust fund. according to a report this year, social security is now operating under permanent annual deficits for as long as they can calculate. now, permanent annual deficits won't work, so what would work? today i'd like to discuss a plan to put social security on a path that means our children and our grandchildren can have confidence that the contributions that come out of their hard-earned paychecks will
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result in benefits when they retire. ask people you know at work who are in their 20's and 30's if they expect to collect social security benefits. just under 26% of voters under 40 believe it's even somewhat likely that they'll receive all their promised social security benefits. 26% somewhat likely, not guaranteed, not absolute, somewhat likely. and just to give you an idea, 15% of people believe that social security will be fine if it's not reformed. 15%. 20% of people polled believe that aliens exist and live among us. so the number of people that believe that aliens exist and live among us is higher than the number of people that believe that social security will be fine if it's not refurled. the last time the senate and the house made comprehensive changes in social security was 1983.
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wcialg it's time to do it again. it's time to do it again and we can make changes in a program that won't affect those that are approaching retirement. though, that'll always be the charge. they're going to take social security from retire he is well, this is a plan that talks about people who are 55 and younger and no change for anybody who's 5 or older today. so if you're 5 or older and you hear the discussion about at least this plan, it has nothing to do with you. it won't affect your social security. so that's the first point. the second point would be, we need to look at a new cost-of-living index that's really based on the cost -- the cost that seniors have. the third point we need a new distribution formula, and if we do those three things, we'll have a solvent system for at least seven decades. in the next 70 years somebody
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can look at this and come up with a plan to be sure it goes beyond thenment but seven decades is as far as you can savely predict anything. but this would predict the life of social security for at least that long as a solvent system. most seniors live on a fixed income, and they feel it when their utility bills go up, their health care costs go up, or when their food prices go up. the current cost-of-living adjustment, the so-called cola formula calculated by the bureau of labor statistics, known as the c.p.i. or the consumer price index, tracks purchases by working age individuals. now, frankly what working age individuals buy may be quite a bit different than what -- than how seniors spend their money or at least how most seniors spend their money. many economists believe this causes the c.p.i. to misrepresent the inflation that impacts seniors. and seniors deserve better. for example, the rising cost of
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education and child care are heavily weighted in the current formula. these costs don't often have the same impact on seniors as they do on the working-age population or the younger population. the health care costs and utility bills's a, as an example, have more impact on seniors and on the budget of seniors than they do on the working-age population. my plan directs the bureau of labor statistics to develop a more accurate method of calculating colas for social security recipients. it would move to a chain-weighted c.p.i. that accounts for the purchasing habits of individuals, not of all ages but individuals who are over 65. and health care costs would account for a much larger portion of senior's spending in this type of an invery an indes. what they spend their money on is what we'd be looking at instead of what everybody in the
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working-age population spends their money on. this would eliminate the program's long-term funding short fall and ensure pams payments forbe the next 70 to 75 years. like the president's fiscal commission, my plan would account for the increase in life expectancicy and would call for an increase in the normal retirement age. now, remember, primarily these are for retirees hue ho don't believe they're going to benefit from the system anyhow. most of the people we're talking about here who will be impacted don't think the system is going to be there for them. we're trying to ensure that it would be. over time, the retirement age changes to 65 years. that's one year younger than the president's commission's proposal, but i think it's an age that works and it looks like it's working as we look through these numbers. this means that the retirement age will rise slowly for future retirees. three months for each year from
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2022 to 2030. nobody would be impacted at all until 2022, and that person that was going to retire in 2022 would retire three months later. and that would be added on every year until 2030. likewise, the plan would change early retirement benefits from 62 to 64 beginning in 2022. so it only again impacts people who get to that age in 2022. our current benefit structure is simply not sustainable and that's why my plan would also modify the current benefit structure to ensure that seniors who earned at or below the 40th percentile receive exactly same amount of retirement benefits as they would if the program continued exactly as it is today. and a new slightly reduced index benefits would occur above the
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40% top. wealthier seniors can plan for their retirement years through personal savings, through retirement plans, through alternative investments, through ira's, through employer-sponsored plans, but those who are not in that category would continue to get exactly the same benefit when they retire they would get at retirementoday's retirement age. so back to president obama's comments yesterday. let's look at a plane that does the following, president obama. let's look at a plan that has no higher rate of contributions, no means test for social security siments, no tax on future beneficiaries, a slightly lower benefit and a slightly longer time to work to retirement. difference is, if you work to retirement, you actually get a benefit. this is no longer a topic we can avoid.
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so let's not miss this opportunity. let's make a promise right now while we're dealing with big issues to workers paying the bill today that social security will be there for them when they retire. and, madam president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. merkley: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from or organize is recognized and we are in a quorum call. mr. merkley: thank you, madam president. i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. merkley: thank you. and, madam president, i ask unanimous consent for my intern, connor meyers, to be -- have the privileges of the floor for the balance of the day. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. merkley: thank you, madam president. i rise today to talk about the significant financial challenges that our nation faces. it will come as a surprise to no one that the topic of greatest
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concern is jobs, jobs in partnership with how we manage our deficit and debt so as to put america on a firm financial footing down the road, to put american families back on a firm financial footing. my mailbox is full of families that have a lot of concerns about the republican plan for cutting programs that serve working americans. now, it's a host of programs that are affected but i pulled a couple letters to bring with me. one is linda writing from canby, oregon. she is a disabled young adult. she writes, "my daughter nicole has cerebral palsy and other medical issues. she is dependent on my husband and i for her total 24/7 care. medicaid is essential because it helps her with medical and dental needs and her mobility. if medicaid is cut or reduced,
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many of the disabled will be forced to live in nursing homes or institutions which we both know would not be cost-effecti cost-effective. please vote against cuts to our medicaid system." and trudy from kaiser, oregon, writes a very similar letter about her grandson, diagnosed with'with asberger's. and the male goes on and on with citizens who are working-class americans, fundamental jobs, often with modest to no health care. they have children, they have grandchildren who will be profoundly affected by the choices we make on health care, the choices we make on educati education, the choices we make in terms of creating jobs here in america. so this debate has enormous import for the success of our families. and in the context of that importance, we need to
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understand how we got to the point we are at right now. and so let's start with a ten-year view of what has happened. now, these statistics might come as a surprise to many of you because they're a little bit out of sync with some of the rhetoric that we hear on the floor of the senate. over the last ten years, from 2001-2011, we've had a revenue decrease of 18%. so revenue has decreased by nearly a fifth. non-defense spending, you'll see no bar here, either negative or positive. the change has been zero over a ten-year period. zero change. those are the programs that affect working america, programs that affect unemployment, programs that affect food, support, nutritional support, head start programs, health care programs, training programs so that people can get better jobs.
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and then over here we have defense spending up 74%. well, that's interesting because these three bars tell the story of decisions made during the eight years of george w. bush administration. over here on revenue, we have breaks that were granted to the best-off in our society and that have been fought for vigorously, the extension of those breaks, by some of my colleagues across the aisle. breaks for the best-off, revenues down over that ten-year period. over here we have the fact that decisions were made for two wars not funded by the american people. now, that's an anomaly in our history. when we go to war, we raise the funds to pay for it but not during the irresponsible eight years of the george w. bush administration. so it is not a surprise that we
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now have a deficit problem, that we now have a debt problem, because concrete decisions were made. and these are only part of the story. the rest of the story is that deregulation of mortgages leading to a vast tsunami of predatory mortgages on working americans turned into securities that poisoned financial houses throughout the united states and, for that matter, throughout the globe als, also contributedo blowing up the economy and driving down the revenue. so concrete decisions from those eight years have placed us where we're at. now, how do we address this shortfall? well, let's start by looking at how the republican budget has been laid out, with three
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principal points. the first is to end medicare as we know it. while this plan to create a voucher system in lieu of medicare is one that, frankly, terrifies every senior citizen in america and every citizen who knows that they will be a senior citizen, who knows that they've been paying for years and years and years into a program that its administrative costs are far more efficient than the general insurance market. but that efficiency, the goal of the republican plan is dismantle that efficiency and throw people into the highly inefficient private insurance markets with a voucher that does not rise proportionally to health care costs. i don't think that destroying the very successful program to provide medicare and health care for our seniors is where we
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should be going. the second part of the plan is to do roughly $4 trillion in cuts to programs for working americans. and the third is to protect all of the programs for the best-off in our society. the benefits for the best-off. now, i think most citizens understand that when we come to a time of national challenge financially, everyone should participate and there shouldn't be this sacred cows for the very best-off while the workers are asked to pick up even more of the burden. in fact, let's take a look at a chart that displays how this functions. the average rate in america, average tax rate is 20.7%. now, let's take the richest 400
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in america. the top 400, their average tax rate is 18%. now, why do the richest 400 get the lowest tax rates? that's what americans have a right to know. why is it that the republican plan is asking to cut programs for working america while protecting the bonus benefits for the best-off in our society? now, these richest 400, they earn over $270 million per year. not collectively, that's their -- that's their average income. well, wouldn't all of us love to be in a situation where we earned even a fraction of $270 million a year? and that structure, while reflected here for the top 400, is really a structure is for the
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best-off, a broad -- high array, a 5% to 10% array of the best earners in america. so those three points -- end medicare as we know it, replace with a voucher program; cut programs for working americans; and protect programs for best-off -- that's the republican plan. now, the chair of the budget committee, senate budget committee, came to the floor this week with a very different plan and that plan has the same savings that the -- the republican plan has. let's take a look at that. okay. so under this plan, the budget framework includes the same amount of deficit reduction as the house republican plan. in fact, actually a little bit more reduction. $4 trillion versus $3.9 trillion. so both plan get towards the
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same objective of fiscal responsibility but they go about it in very different ways. first, the conrad plan throws out, tosses away republican plan to end medicare as we know it. the second thing it does is it puts all spending programs on the table, and so let's turn to that piece of the structure. so here we have the republican plan and it's all in direct spending cuts, touching none of the programs for the best-off that have been careful embedded in the tax code. now, every american understands this game. you can fund a project with a $10,000 grant or you can give a $10,000 tax credit. that's in the tax code. or you can give a tax deduction
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that's worth $10,000. also in the tax code. three different ways of accomplishing the very same objective. but the republican plan is to say, wait, let's only do the first of those three strategies because the second and third strategy we have utilized to create the programs for the best-off in america and we don't want to touch those. we want to place this burden on working americans. well, the conrad plan says that's not right, that this needs to be a conversation about fairness. we know those best off pay the lowest tax rates compared to working americans, as i just showed in that previous chart, just 18%. so, the conrad plan says let's take 50% of that effort to close the deficit and do it in direct spending, and let's take 50% by closing tax loopholes, cutting tax subsidies, cutting tax earmarks and promoting fairness.
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i came to the floor last week to talk about the bluegrass boondoggle. that's not a lot of money in terms of the overall challenge we face as america. $120 million over ten years. but, to work -- a working american $120 million is a lot. what that is is a special provision inserted not for companies, but for the owners, owners to the individual tax code to the richest americans, the millionaires and billionaires who own thoroughbreds. they get a special break that the rest of america doesn't get. and there's program after program after program like that inserted for the best off. so, the conrad plan says all other spending, whether it's been in the appropriations bill or it's been in the tax bill is going to be examined. that is a fair, a fundamentally fair approach.
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now, let's take and look at that in a little more detail. first we're going to look at what the conrad does in terms of fair rates for the middle class. well, first it provides the alternative minimum tax protection for the middle class. second is it stakes and continues tax reductions for the middle class that we have currently. and the third, it cancels the bonus breaks for the millionaires and billionaires. well, that's basic rate fairness then, in addition, it says let's take on those special tax subsidies and tax earmarks that my colleagues across the aisle
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have been so proud of inserting into the tax code to protect the best off in society, and let's examine them. and if they don't meet the fundamental test of creating unemployment, contributing to fairness and being more important than other programs placed against each oh then they should be eliminated. in addition, let's take on those offshore tax havens. there are so many setups in which companies have false advertisements in the caribbean so they can transport their goods to a place where they have no taxes. this is a very important challenge that we have in terms of our national deficit and our debt and taking it on in a manner that takes and strengthens the programs that
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need to be strengthened. it strengthens them. so you will find that the conrad budget, in contrast to the republican budget, says let's invest in education. we are in a knowledge economy world. we must invest in education if our economy is going to thrive and our children are going to be successful. the conrad budget, in contrast to the republican budget, says let's invest in infrastructure. we are falling behind in terms of supporting infrastructure. china is spending 10% to 12% a year. europe is spending 5% a year. america is spending only 2%, and that's barely enough to repair or existing infrastructure. in fact, sometimes those repairs are falling short. i know our county officials and city officials will be glad to provide us with a list of just how short we are. so, the third area is the conrad
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budget, invest in energy. and why is energy so important? because currently we're spending $1 billion a day, sending it overseas basically as a result of our addiction to oil. when you send $1 billion for oil overseas, do you three things. the first is you create a national security because of the dependence for our energy in the middle east and places around the world that don't share our fundamental interest. the second is you create jobs overseas rather than creating jobs in the united states. let's spend that $1 billion a day here in the united states of america on red, white, and blue, american-made renewable energy. not only does our security improve, but in addition, we create the jobs here in the united states. and, third, by ending our
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addiction to oil, we contribute to addressing the carbon pollution challenge faced around this globe rather than being part of the problem ourselves. so, let's not adopt a budget plan that ends medicare as we know it and replaces it with a voucher program, that savages programs for working americans, and that protects the programs for the best off in our society. let's instead invest in energy, invest in education, invest in infrastructure and obtain the same impact on our deficit, but do it in a manner that builds our economy and builds american families. that is the type of program that true did i would -- that trudy would like to see from kaiser, oregon, linda would thraoeubg staoe from can-- would like to see from canby, oregon and
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workers would thraoeubg see because they know we should have a plan that creates jobs rather than doing the reverse. thank you, madam president. mr. grassley: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa is recognized. mr. grassley: now you hear the other side of the story. madam president, it's a privilege for me to come to the united states senate floor to speak on the issue of the resolution that's before us, which is a sense of the senate resolution, which means basically the senate is debating something that's not shooting
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with real bullets. in other words, it's -- it just expresses the senate. it doesn't change any laws. it really doesn't amount to much. as the president and congressional leaders continue to debate how best to reduce the deficit, it seems that my friends on the other side of the aisle and my president continue to demand a tax increase as part of any deal. for sure, any discussion of reducing the deficit should include a discussion of tax reform. tax reform is different than tax increases. and you heard the previous speaker speak about republican plans that deal with just reducing expenditures and that's right because we feel that the deficit problem in this country isn't because the american people are undertaxed.
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it's because congress and washington overspend. however, what is being duscussed with this resolution currently is tax increases on targeted groups supposedly because they can afford it. this is not tax reform. professor vetter of ohio university has studied tax increases and spending for more than two decades. in the late 1980's, he coauthored with lowell galloway, also of ohio university, a research paper for the congressional joint economic committee. that study found that every new dollar of new taxes led to more, more than one dollar of new spending by the congress. it didn't reduce the deficit then.
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you raise a dollar, you increase the deficit. i'll be a little more specific. now, working with steven moore of the "wall street journal," professor vetter updated that research last year and came to the same result. specifically, moore and vetter found -- and i quote -- "over the entire post war ii era, through the year 2009, each dollar of new tax revenue was associated with $1.17 in new spending. that's like a dog chasing his tail. very few dogs catch it. and so you raise $1 here. well, the common sense might dictate it goes to the bottom line, but it doesn't work out that way. it actually increases the deficit because congress feels, well, we got a new dollar coming in. let's spend $1.17.
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so history proves tax increases result in spending increases. and so we know that increasing taxes is not going to reduce the deficit. history also shows that tax increases don't increase revenues. now, that's probably contrary to most people's common sense, but i have a chart here that i think demonstrates this very clearly. and i'll be somewhat repetitive because i want to leave my remarks and go to the chart, and i'll refer to it again. what this chart basically shows is over a long period of time, going back to world world war io the present, all the taxes coming in to the federal government have been roughly -- well, come out 18.2% of gross national product, pretty much
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even steven across the board. sometimes up a little bit, sometimes down a little bit. but for 50 or more years, averaging about 18.2% of gross national product. but what this chart also shows is contrary to what you believe, that you have -- you raise taxes, you're going to bring in more revenue, and you reduce taxes, you're going to bring in less revenue. that's not true, when this gets to this issue of taxing the wealthy or gets to the issue of raising taxes on anybody. so from world war ii to president jack kennedy we had a 90% marginal tax rate. then from president kennedy to president reagan, we had 70% marginal tax rate. and then in the last half of the
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reagan administration and up until, well, 1986, it was reduced to 50% under reagan's administration. then reagan had another tax bill and it was reduced to 30%. then, of course, you know president bush, the dad, made this promise in the campaign that "read my lips: no new taxes." he didn't keep his promise. the taxes went back up to about 40% for a period of time until you get to a period of time when bush the son comes into office and the marginal tax rate is reduced to where it is now, 35. but whether you have high marginal tax rates or low marginal tax rates, you get about the same amount of revenue. i'm going to be repetitive on that point, but it's very important that you understand
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that. history shows that tax increases don't increase revenues. the chart here shows that revenues is a percentage of gross domestic product, hovers around 20% as far back as post world war ii. i said in my off-the-cuff remarks it would average out to about 18.2%. this chart also shows where you have high and low marginal tax rates over those same years. during the last years of world war ii, we had a 94% tax rate. and that was then from 1950 through 1963. it was 90%, as this chart shows. and under president kennedy -- and i was to emphasize he was a democrat. he was smart enough to reduce
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marginal tax rates to incentivize entrepreneurship. he reduced the marginal tax rates down to 70%, and it stayed around 70% until president reagan brought it down to 50%. and let me say at this point that i just gave president reagan credit for it, but we had some -- i was a brand-new member of the senate finance committee in 1981, and we had some very brave democrats on that committee. they felt that 70% was too high, is going to promote entrepreneurship more if you reduce it to 50%. now, president reagan gets credit for it, and i don't think any republican on the senate finance committee could take credit for it because we would have been accused as we have just been accused of wanting to reduce taxes on wealthy people. so thank god there were a lot of smart, intellectually ponce
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senate democrats on the finance committee in 1981, that said it ought to be reduced down to 50%. well, then it went down to 30% when we reduced marginal tax rates further during the reagan administration. as i said before, the first president bush reneged on his promise to not raise taxes and the marginal tax rates went back up to 40% and stayed there until the tax relief enacted under the second president bush. during all of these tax increases and decreases, the amount of revenue as a percentage of g.d.p. stayed roughly flat, 50-year average of 18.2%. so everybody thinks that if you raise the marginal tax rate, you're going to bring in more revenue. seemingly common sense, but not true because the taxpayers, the workers in america, the investors in this country that
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create jobs are smarter than we are, but we don't think they are smarter than we are. and we have had 93% marginal tax rates, 70%, 30%, back to 40%, now 35%. but regardless of that rate, we get roughly the same amount of revenue. higher tax rates just provide incentives for taxpayers to invest and earn money in ways that result in the least amount of taxes paid. or you might say it this way. some people just say to themselves that they aren't going to work hard because why should i work so darn hard if i'm going to send the money to washington for people in congress to spend and waste? spherdz, will -- in other words,
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taxpayers have decided they are going to give us politicians in washington just so much money to spend, and it comes out right here. we ought to have some principles of taxation that we abide by, and i have -- abide by this principle that about 18% of the gross domestic product of our country is good enough for the government to collect and to spend. that leaves 82% in the pockets of taxpayers for them to decide how to spend, because when you send money to washington, 535 of us deciding how to spend it, it doesn't do as much economic good or turn over as much in the economy and create jobs if it's left in the pockets of the 130 million-some taxpayers individually to decide how to spend it. this benchmark of 18% of gross domestic product is good and has
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been consistent throughout recent history. it's a principle we should keep in mind while we debate tax code changes. this level of taxation, another reason why i say it's justified. it hasn't been harmful to the economy, as higher tax rates like we find in europe are harmful to the economy, much higher tack rates than we have in this country, and it seemed to be a level of taxation that there hasn't been a great deal of revolt by the taxpayers of america against. there's another principle i'd like to have you keep in mind, and that is what is the purpose of tax laws? those who support resolutions like the one we have here currently debated, this meaningless resolution, assume that the key objective of our federal government through the federal income tax laws should be to ensure that income is distributed equally throughout the country.
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as opposed to government taxing for the purposes of government but not for the purposes of the redistribution of wealth. in other words, the authors of this resolution believe the federal government is the best judge of how your income should be spent. resolutions like the one that we're considering today assume then -- i say it for a second time -- assume that 535 members of congress know how to best spend the resources of this country. and presently, that's about 18%, but that's not enough. well, actually, they are spending more than 18% because the expenditures of this country add up to about 25% of the gross national product from the federal government, because we borrow 42 cents out of every dollar that we're spending today. it assumes that government creates wealth and should therefore spread it around like they do in europe. in fact, government doesn't
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create wealth. government doesn't create wealth. government consumes wealth. only workers and investors, laborers and people that provide capital and in turn people that use their brain to invent and create, that's what creates wealth. yet, as history shows, there is evidence that tax increases lead to more spending, and i quoted professor vetter, and that revenues as a percentage of gross domestic product pretty much stayed the same regardless even if the marginal tax rates are very, very high. it would be one thing for me to vote for a tax increase if it went to the bottom line, reducing the deficit. it's quite another thing to vote for a tax increase that just allows more spending and raises the deficit instead of getting the deficit down. the resolution before us now in the senate requires us to
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concede -- quote -- "that any agreement to reduce the deficit should require that those earning more than $1 million per year make a meaningful contribution to the deficit reduction effort." end of quote. the resolution does not state -- does not state that such a --quote, unquote -- meaningful contribution would be accomplished through tax increases, but how else would these authors of this resolution and the taxpayers intend to or make such a contribution? let me make clear that i do not support this resolution and will vote no on its adoption. however, i think it is a good thing that we're debating such an issue. it is clear that those who support this resolution believe that those earning more than than $1 million per year are not
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paying their fair share. note, however, that just last year, these very same people believed that a single person who earned $200,000 or a married couple that earned $250,000 wasn't paying their fair share. in evaluating whether people are paying their fair share, experts frequently look at whether the proposal retains or improves the progressivity of our tax system. critics of lower tax rates continue to attempt to use distribution tables to show that tax relief proposals disproportionately benefit upper income taxpayers. we keep hearing that the rich are getter richer while the poor are getting poorer, don't we, almost every day. this is not an intellectually dishonest statement. what does it imply?
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it implies that those who were poor seem to stay poor and that those who are rich seem to stay rich. so i want to dispute that position. in 2007, the department of treasury published a report entitled "income mobility in the united states from 1996-2005." the key findings of this study include -- and i have got some long quotes, and i won't keep saying quote, unquote. but i've got about four or five paragraphs here. "there was considerable income mobility of individuals in the u.s. economy during the period 1996-2005 as over half the taxpayers moved to a different income quintile over that period. roughly half the taxpayers who began at the bottom income
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quintile in 1996 moved up to a higher income group by the year 2005. among those that were at the very highest incomes in 1996, the top .01%, only 25%, one in four, remained in this group ten years later in 2005. so the poor aren't always poor and the rich aren't always rich. moreover, the median real income of these taxpayers actually declined over this period. the degree of mobility among income groups is unchanged from the prior decade, 1987-1996. so i quote i use the group 1996- 2005 and i'm comparing it
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with a group 1987-1996, and so i want to repeat the degree of mobility among income groups was unchanged over a 20-year period of time. continuing to quote, economic growth resulted in rising incomes for most taxpayers over the period of 1996-2005. median income of all taxpayers increased by 24% after adjusting for inflation. the real incomes of two-thirds of all taxpayers increased over this period. in addition, the median income of those initially in the lower income groups increased -- let me start over again. in addition, the median income of those initially in the lower income groups increased more than the median income of those initially in the higher income
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group. therefore, -- and i repeat -- whoever is saying that once rich, americans stay rich, and once poor, they stay poor is purely mistaken because america is a country, a land of opportunity. now, i want to say that the internal revenue service data support the analysis that i just gave. so i was done -- i'm done quoting at that point. a study of 400 tax returns with the highest income reported over 14 years. i don't know whether these are the same 400 taxpayers that my friend on the other side just referred to in his speech, but a study of 400 tax returns with the highest incomes reported over 14 years from the year 1992
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to the year 2006 shows that in any given year, on average, about 40% of the thrawrns were filed were not in the top 400 in any of the other 14 years. because i got the impression that the other 400 taxpayers in the previous speech may be always the same people. but 40% were not in that group. the so-called shared sacrifice resolution before the senate now does not acknowledge these trends, hence i think it's intellectually dishonest. it presupposes that anyone making more than $1 million should be contributing more to reduce a deficit that they likely did not create in the first place. we created it. the resolution assumes that the folks in this income category have always made more than than $1 million, that they haven't paid their dues on their
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way up the ladder of success and as a result should pay a penalty for their current success even if they are on the way down the ladder. the resolution also assumes that these folks will continue earning what they are earning now. as i just noted, however, the treasury report and the i.r.s. tax data contradict this position. i welcome this data on this important matter for one simple reason. it sheds light on what america really is all about, what this great country is all about. vast opportunities. and of course as i just said in these statistics but you can see it in a lot of different ways as well, we're a country of great economic mobility. this country built by people from all over the world. our country truly provides unique opportunities for everyone.
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these opportunities include better education, health care and financial security and probably a lot of other things, but most importantly our country provides people with the freedom to obtain the necessary skills to climb the economic ladder and live better lives we are a free nation. tweer a mow bile nation. we're a nation of hard of working, skilled and resilient people who like to take risks when necessary in order to succeed. we have an obligation as lawmakers to incooperate these fundamental principles into our tax system. now, an another matter in this debate, we have also heard much about -- quote, unquote -- "closing rupees holes." well, that sound good. i don't want to tell you how i believe that ought to be done.
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there's things that are legal and there's things that aren't legal. let me just say that there are in fact loopholes to be closed, and i would support closing them. during my tenure as chairman and then rank member of the finance committee, i worked with colleagues from both sides of the aisle to cut off tax cheats at the pass. the american jobs creating act signed into law october 2004 included a sweeping package to end avoidance abuses -- avoiding abuses such as corporations claim tax deductions for taxpayer-funded infrastructure such as subways, suers and -- sewers and bridge leases. corporate and individual expatriation to exscape taxes and enron-generated tax evasion schemes. we closed them. one of the tax-avoiding
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provisions that the jobs bill shut down was the so-called corporate inversions. the average workers in america can't pull up stakes and move to bermuda or set up a fancy tax shelter to avoid paying taxes. companies that do this make a sucker out of workers and companies that stay here in this great country and pay their fair share of tassments so -- of taxes. so, that was closed. corporate inversions we called that. we also closed loopholes used by individual taxpayers much. the jobs bill included a provision to restricted the deductions for used vehicles to actual sales price. prior to that, fixed individuals were claiming inflated fair market values, before they gave their card car to a nonprofit organization. then the pension protection act, which was signed into law in august 2006, i championed reforms to donations for gifts
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of fractional interest in art as well as donations to charities that were controlled by the donors. because if you give money away, it ought to be given away. you shouldn't control it after you give it away. the same way with your art. in both cases individuals were taking huge deductions for donations without providing equivalent benefits to the charities to which they donated. in addition to ensuring that income and deductions are properly reported, i also supported giving the internal revenue service more tools to go after tax cheats. the jobs bill contained provisions that required taxpayers to disclose to the i.r.s. their participation in tax shelters and increase penalties for participating in such tax shelters as well as not disclosing such participation to the i.r.s. i also authored the updates to
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the tax whistle-blower provisions which was signed into law december 2006. there was a whistle-blower stawlt long before that but because of the low dollar thresholds, so our 2 a 006 changes that i championed increase the awards for those blowing the whistle on the really big fish: individuals and businesses engaged in large-dollar tax shading through complex financial transactions. i don't know why it took the i.r.s. so long to get this law under way because they've had plenty of whistle-blowers come forth. but we've only had one time so far -- i think we'll get a lot of others now -- imu we've only had one time so far under this provision. it was made in april of this year and recovered $20 million for taxpayers that otherwise
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would have been lost to fraud. from one company. these are just a few examples of my support for provisions to stop abuses of the tax code to make sure everyone pays their fair share. if and when we get around to considering comprehensive tax reform, i would look forward to shutting down any other abuses that exist. but first we need to be clear on what a loophole is. itemized deductions are just that: itemized deductions. they're not loopholes. similarly, deductions and tax credits that enable a corporation to zero out its tax liability are not loopholes, like for instance if you had a loss last year, you can carry it forward this year. the question is whether deductions and credits should be limited is a question that should be answered not to raise revenue but in the context of comprehensive tax reform. eliminating deductions and
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credits for certain taxpayers should be subject to extensive review and extensive debate and taxpayers shouldn't be targeted for tax increases for political sport, as this resolution before us does. i want to finish by summing up in three points very quickly. first, according to this chart, tax increases don't -- well not according to this chart. that's the second point i want to make. first, tax increases don't reduce deficits and they don't increase revenue as a percentage of g.d.p. secondly, we ought to have some principles of taxation -- well, first of all, this chart shows that you get about the same amount of revenue coming in over a 50-year period of time, about
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18.2% of gross domestic product. you have high marginal tax rates, really low marginal tax rates. still brings in the same amount of revenue. we ought to have some principles of taxation that we abide by. limiting revenues to the historical average of 18% of g.d.p. should be one while ensuring income equality should not be one. in other words, you raise revenue for the purpose of funding the functions of government, not to redistribute wealth. and last but not least, it is right to consider tax reform when discussing deficit reduction. however, the proposal put forth so far, including the current resolution, are political proposes, not reform proposals. tax reform requires presidential leadership, and we're just now seeing that -- well, i mean we aren't seeing it on tax reform but we're finally seeing it on deficit reduction. but i don't think it's going to last very long.
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i yield the floor. mr. nelson: madam president? the presiding officer: if the senator will hold his request, the senator from florida. mr. nelson: madam president, i ask that -- consent that i may speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: wowcts. mrwithout objection. mr. nelson: madam president, i will speak on this resolution before us tomorrow and matters about the budget deficit and how to -- how it ought to be solved, and it has to be solved. and i will reserve comments on that until tomorrow. in the meantime, what i wanted to point out to the senate, that we had a very significant benefit to not only the florida
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citrus industry but to the worldwide citrus industry because there is a disease -- it is a bacterial disease -- of all thijts a called citrus -- of all things it's called citrus greening. it is anything but that because what it does, it kills a citrus tree within five years. and it has infected every grove in florida. and when i say that the worldwide citrus industry is being threatened, i mean just that. this strain of bacteria came somewhere from asia, has been imported not only into the united states but in a lot of other countries that have moderate climates, warm climates, humid climates. there's another version that came from a different part of the world that is not as
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virulent. but what happens, this bacteria that is now been brought into this country, it's in brazil as well, another major citrus-producing country, and it is carried by a little insect called a cilly. duvment. and the little cilli divment carrying this bacteria bites into the tree, the bacteria gets into the sap, and it will kill the tree in five years, and there is no known cure. well, if it'sing about it to kill a tree in five years, you can see the potential for the destruction of what we have come to take as standard fare, that we're going to have orange juice on our breakfast table. and that those who enjoy the
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mild elicks irrelevance and mix certain elicks irrelevance with orange juice, called maybe mohammed sis, whatever, that -- momosis, whatever, that this is going to be a thing of the past if we don't get serious about finding a cure for this disease. now, the reason that it is so extraordinarily lethal for the united states and for the state of florida is the fact that since every grove has been affected and since almost all of our orange juice that we consume in the domestic consumption of the united states -- i say "almost all" -- the biggest percentage comes from florida. some of it, a little bit, from california, mostly the juice that's added to florida juice comes from brazil, but when
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there is a bumper crop in florida, they don't have to ship it in and refrigerate -- in refrigerated ships from brazil. we're going to have a whole way of life, a whole tradition, we're going to have domestic consumption that is threatened if we don't come up with a cure. now, the florida citrus industry, to their credit, has been taxing themselves, the growers, to produce a stream of revenue that will allow them to continue the research to try to find a cure. we've gotten some limited amount also from the u.s. department of agriculture and supplementing all of that with back at the time when we can make a specific appropriations request, otherwise called an earmark,
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this senator certainly was asking for appropriations to help find a cure to this dreaded disease. we haven't cured the cure. and we have to have a stream of revenue to keep this going. so since it is so difficult to pass anything around here these days, even the citrus trust fund that i had filed that last year we had a whole bunch of cosponsors but this year, of course, we're all wound around the axel here on passing anything, if it has tog to do with the budget, what i did was go to the u.s. department of agriculture and i said, help. we have to have some help immediately. and fortunately, the administration -- and i talked to the chief of staff on the white house about how dire this situation is -- we can't wait.
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so they have just announced yesterday that they are releas releasing $2 million immediately that will go into the usda research station at fort pierce -- fort pierce, florida, for the remainder of this fiscal year, and in the next fiscal year, assuming that the competitive grants fund is funded by the u.s. congress for the department of agriculture, which we have to assume that that program is going to continue, that the usda has set aside an amount of $5 million in the next fiscal year, starting october 1, that will go directly into this research, and they have agreed to set aside in the following two years $2 million and $2 million in each
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of those years so that we've got a steady stream of funding of $11 million for research specifically for citrus greening. now, california may have this bacteria. if texas doesn't have it, it's just a matter of days or months. and the same with the citrus that is grown in arizona. and of course in a country like brazil, which to their credit some of the citrus growers in brazil have actually contributed money to our u.s. research institutions, trying to find a cure because brazil has got the same problem, they've got it in a lot of their groves. the big difference between the brazil citrus industry and the u.s. is that they have more land, so they can -- they can
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mow down and burn a citrus grove and go over and -- and clear new land that's unaffected and go on and start a new grove. we don't have that luxury. we don't in any of our citrus growing states in the sunbelt and certainly we don't have that luxury in florida to just go out and find new land to plant new citrus groves. so this is a very significant departure and a welcome new announcement by the u.s. department of agriculture that they will be sending $11 million over the next three years specifically dedicated to finding a cure for citrus gruening before it's too late. -- citrus greening before it's too late. what citrus growers can do is
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that they can prolong the life of a tree, a grove by doing certain spring and so forth, but at the end of the day, the tree's going to die and they're not going to produce any oranges for orange juice. no grapefruit for grapefruit that we enjoy. and just so the rest of the senate will understand, this industry is -- is part of us, part of us as floridians. we have even on our license tag in floridian orange. -- florida an orange. we have an industry that has been a mainstay of our economy for years and years. and, of course, because of the forward thinking florida citrus
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commission in the late 1940's, 1950's and the 1960's, they made orange juice to become a wanted and acceptable commodity on most every american breakfast table. and it's threatened, and it's up to us to do something about it. i was particularly thankful to the administration that they would come up with the $2 million immediately, because in addition to the growers taxing themselves on a per citrus box produced assessment, they were counting on the state of florida to produce a $2 million appropriation to go into a $15 million research fund in this year, and lo and behold, the governor of florida vetoed
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that in the appropriations bill. so the replacement of that vetoed item by the government -- by the governor with this federal money from the usda, considered an emergency allocation, it is welcome, it is timely, and it is much appreciated by all of the aficionados across america that enjoy orange juice as a staple in our diet. madam president, i yield the floor and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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mr. nelson: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from floridament mr. nelson: madam president, i ask consent to lift the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: madam president, i understand i may be needed here for some administrative activities here in just a minu minute, so while i'm waiting on that, let me just say that with the last space shuttle launching on last friday -- and it was a beautiful, beautiful launch -- and, of course, the expertise of the finest launch team anywhere
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in the world was very evident. when they got down to t-minus 31 and they saw an indication on the -- on the controls that there had not been a retraction of one of the arms that's a servicing arm, but they were ready for that, and as it turned out, it was a faulty censor. and, of course, the way they check, they've got cameras all over the launch tower, and so they turned the cameras on and trained it over there and saw that arm, in fact, had retracted and pulled into its safe position. and so with only 53 seconds left in the launch window, the launch window being that you had to launch the shuttle at that time so that it, once on orbit, could catch up with the space station, which was its destination, with
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53 seconds to go, the count continued then, starting at t-minus 31 and went on down into a flawless launch, a flawless flight, as they are now docked with the space station. and as they are now transferring this 20,000 pounds of cargo and equipment and supplies that will keep the international space station supplied for the next year. i don't think people realize how big the international space station is. madam president, this thing is 120 yards long. if you sat on the 50-yard line of a football stadium and looked from the end of one end zone all the way to the other end zone, that is how big the international space station is
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that we have built with another 15 national partners, and primarily our partner in building it, the russians. and, of course, you remember that the iteration before the international space station was originally the soviet space station that became the russian space station called mir, of which we used to fly our astronauts with the space shuttle to the russian space station. and so the russians have been our partners. and, remember, when we have been down -- for example, after the destruction of the space shuttle columbia in early 2003, for over two years, we would not fly the space shuttle as we went through and made the corrections that had caused the destruction of columbia and the loss of seven
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astronauts. and we relied on the russians, on their soyuz to get us to and from the space station. now, the sad thing is that the new rockets that we are building to go to and from the space station, there's one version of those rockets that, in fact, is going to fly later this year, rorendezvous and dock with the space station and deliver cargo, but it has not been human rated. and to do that, you have to go through and put in all the redundancies for safety, you have to put in all the escape mechanisms on the capsule. and once that's done, this will be a rocket that will be much safer than the space shuttle. as a matter of fact, we can save the crew even from, if they had
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an explosion on the pad, the crew can safely ejected in the escape rocket with the capsule, parachuting to safety, all the way, all the way 8 1/2 minutes to orbit if they a malfunction. contrast that with the space shuttle. when you saw atlantis lift off, the first two minutes, there is no escape. you are married to those big solid rockets. and if there's a failure then, there is no way out for the crew. and as we saw, that was how challenger 25 years ago was destroyed. they had a malfunction in one of the rockets. it caused the whole thing to explode. i'm talking about one of the solid rockets within the first two minutes of flight. well, we're going to have a much safer way to get to and from the space station. the sad thing is, however, that the rocket for humans is not
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ready and it's going to take about another three years. and, therefore, it is sad that all of that finest launch team in the world at the kennedy space center, a good part of them are having to be laid off. and that will -- that employment will ramp up over the next several years as we build and launch those kind of rockets. now, there's another set of human rated rockets. i'm just talking about the manned space program now. i'm not talking about the unmanned. look what we're getting ready. this year we're going to jupit jupiter. later on, we are getting ready to launch a volkswagen size rover that is going to go to the surface of mars. and you know what those little
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rovers have done over the last number of years. i mean, they've gone like the energizer bunny all over the surface. this one is going to be the size of a voof volkswagen. so we have these kind of missions that are going o. but . but the human space program, the next big one to get nasa out of earth orbit is the rocket that we're developing, a monster rocket. the capsule contract has already been let and we are now going on the process of, pursuant to the nasa law that we passed last year, proceed with the design and the building of this rocket that will take us on the goal set by the president to mars with interim stations along the way and he has suggested an asteroid to vaugha rendezvous wn
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asteroid and land by 2025. well, we have a vigorous space program going ahead. senator hutchison, who has been a -- just a wonderful partner in helping set nasa policy in all of this, and i are going to have something to say about this in the next few days because we think there is a holdup in the office of management and budget with regard to the rocket design and the architecture for the big rocket. a delay that we are wondering why this delay keeps occurring. but we'll -- we'll talk about that in a later session. so, madam president, with that, i yield the floor and i would ask if the ministerial -- administrative matter is ready. all right, madam president, i would ask that a quorum call be
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initiated. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.ficer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: i ask unanimous consent that s. 869, the former charleston naval base land exchange act of 2011, be discharged from the committee on energy and natural resources and be referred to the committee on homeland security and governmental affairs. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until
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9:30 a.m. on wednesday, july 13. that following the prayer and the pledge, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the morning hour be deemed expired and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: that following, madam president, i further ask unanimous consent that following any leader's remarks, the senate resume consideration of s. 1323, a bill to express the sense of the senate on shared sacrifice in resolving the budget deficit, with one hour of debate equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees prior to the cloture vote on s. 1323.
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further, that the filing deadline for all second-degree amendments on s. 1323 be 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. madam president, there will be up to two roll call votes at approximately 10:30 tomorrow. the first vote will be on the motion to invoke cloture on s. 1323, the sense of the senate bill on shared sacrifice in resolving the budget deficit. and if cloture is not invoked, there will be a second cloture vote on the motion to proceed to h.r. 2055, the military construction veterans affairs and related agencies
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appropriations bill. madam president, if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it adjourn under the previous order. the presiding officer: the the presiding officer: the
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>> the federal government has obligations, and we have obligations on our part, end of quote. speaker boehner was right then and belong now. the deficit is not just one parties problem. he seems to have forgotten about eight years when republicans turned a surplus into huge deficits with unpaid taxes for millionaires, unpaid wars, drug benefits, raising the debt ceiling was not just reagan ice problem when he raised it 18 times. he raised the debt ceiling 18 times. that's where the speaker, john boehner has voted for increasing the debt ceiling on many occasions, but most importantly failing to raise the debt ceiling will be a problem for the million of americans who would not receive social security checks and for the
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troop who would not get paid and cause the stock market to crash draining american savings and retirement funds. i watched secretary geithner in the course of the discussions become more concerned and more solemn each time we meet. he understands more than anyone else the issues facing our country, but i do agree with speaker boehner what he said before. whether we like it or not, it's everybody's problem, it's a problem to deal with like adults. acting like adults does not mean walking out of the room every time talks get serious. republicans have done it time and time again the last few years. the first time was the conrad legislation where seven republican senators walked away from it. that's number one.
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number two, the gang of six which met in every hallway and room in the whole capital complex over months. they walked out of that. the biden talks, most took place over f219, they walked out on those. we then had the obama boehner talks. remember those were the ones where the speaker said i was elected to do something things, but to do big things. excuse me. i guess he changed overnight and said you don't want any part of that. those talks are struggling along, but in effect, boehner walked out on those talks also. the reality that we have to face is that we have to have shared sacrifices in whatever we do, whatever arrangement we make to
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raise the debt ceiling. walking away from reality is a weakness we cannot afford. it's a weakness that the economy, our middle class cannot afford. i hope republicans wake up to that reality instead of leading and walking away. i received a call from senator mcconnell at 12:13 today. he has a proposal i think some of you looked over. is that right? some of you have seen the proposal? it's out anyway. he'll explain that to you. he'll be out here shortly. i'm not about to trash the proposal. it's something i will look at. i will like at it intently, and i think any new ideas i'm willing to look at so i'm not here to trash senator mcconnell's new proposal. i'd be happy to take a look at
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it and look forward to the meeting that convenes at quarter to four today, and i'll do my utmost to take that into consideration. >> the president consideredded the working amendment? >> no. here's what happened. this is a question i think we should get to whether the feds should invoke the 14th amendment. in my opinion, the answer is no. until 1939 in this country we never had a debt ceiling. it started in 1939. we raised it i think 84 times since 1939. 55 times it's been with republican presidents. 34 times with democratic presidents whatever the math is, that's how many times we raised it. many of the debt ceilings have been increased with the republican presidents, and we have a democratic president and we should play with the rules
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established and raise the debt ceiling. >> can you extend your ideas about senator mcconnell's proposal? >> i can't too much because i don't know that much about them. i'm note long on the telephone, and either is he, but he gave me the outline of that and i'm happy to look at it. his chief of staff briefed my chief of staff. i'm willing to look at this. i don't in any way disparage what senator mcconnell's -- we have had a number of meetings over the last few weeks talking about the concerns we have, and i'll be happy to give consideration of -- his suggestions every consideration. >> you've made a strong stand against medicare and social security. are you ready to support a deal that the changes this program? >> i'm only willing to take a look at medicare and medicaid if
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there is a grand bargain, a grand bargain of more more than $4 trillion with revenue raisers. i will not touch medicare and medicaid for a simple deal that we get nothing beneficial to the country. they should not be tampered with unless there is the grand bargain. >> social security? >> same as medicare and medicaid. >> beneficiary cuts? [inaudible] >> well, grand bargain, the grand bargain is we need to talk about a grand bargain because that's been trashed by cantor and kyl, and i have not heard wild applause from anyone else on the republicans. boehner walked out on it. let's not spend a lot of time on the grand bargain. >> [inaudible] >> well, my caucus is anxious to
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find out where we are. to find that out is extremely difficult. i'm going back at quarter to four. my caucus has always been reasonable. well, we're team players, and we'll continue being that way, but until we have something to team up with, there's nothing to even hold a huddle on. >> my only concern is why am i taking so many questions? go ahead. >> would you insist a proposal if the house republicans leader cantor or the speaker bring their own proposals -- >> i have no conversation with senator mcconnell about that. >> [inaudible] >> on the grand bargain, of course. okay, everybody, thanks.
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>> senate minority leader mitch mcconnell said default is not an option when raising the debt ceiling and remarked senate republicans are becoming increasingly pessimistic regarding deficit reduction and plans to introduce legislation forcing barak obama to request a debt ceiling increase. there's an august 2 deadline for congress to lift the $14.3 debt ceiling. >> well, hello, everyone, good afternoon. senator kyl and i will be going down to the white house shortly for our daily meeting to discuss whether or not we're going to be able to come together and take
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advantage of the opportunity presented to us by the president's request to raise the debt ceiling. one thing that i just had an opportunity to brief my members on is a sort of last choice option. if we're unable to come together, we think it's extremely important that the country reassure the markets that default is not an option, and reassure social security recipients and families of military veterans that default is not an option. senate republicans will be on the floor next week advocating a balanced budget amendment to require us to live within our means. all 47 republicans are behind that proposal, and we hope to attract enough democrats to pass it.

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